Tonight, my thoughts turn inward. I am thinking of living. Of life. Of how we do this thing called living. This thing called living life. I am thinking: of how we are perceived by others to have lived our lives. Of how we even perceive it ourselves.
My aunt lies dying in a hospital bed, and I wonder about her life. About how she was unable to live a life which I would perceive to be full and complete. I wonder about such things, wonder what this really means. What it entails. Because, I want to know. Whose life is really full? Really complete? Is it mine? Is it yours? Is it hers? Is mine and yours that much better than hers? Is there dignity in a life of confinement? Is there any joy to be had? Any kindness?
Today someone reminded me yet again about the particular importance of kindness to the soul of another. We can have everything going for us- all talents, all gifts, all opportunities, all measure of wealth and wisdom and health. We can seemingly have it all. And yet be missing kindness.
And thus have nothing.
If kindness is the sole missing link, I wonder: is any of the rest really worth the bother? For kindness is the air that sustains. It is the breath of life. It seems to be everything.
I just got off the phone with the nurse on duty at the manor this evening. The nurse at the manor where my aunt lies dying, specifically. His voice was so kind. Palliative nurses and geriatric nurses are amazing people. What I notice first about so many of them is their kindness. Their voices are kind. So is their touch. They are tender, gentle. They are unafraid of what so many of us are afraid of: smells, textures, sounds, movements. To each subtle and not so subtle change, they offer a supreme measure of kindness and sense of respect. To each individual, they extend the olive branch of peace and grace. They are guardians of kindness. It takes an individual of high character and quality to work with people, but those who work with our dear elderly, who work with our dying: they astound me. For these individuals have a special quality- a seemingly overflowing measure of goodness within. Grace and love which just spills over into their touch. Into their interactions both great and small.
If we can learn kindness, we have learned nearly everything we need to know about interacting with the rest of our world. If we can know what it feels like, sounds like, looks like: what it is. Then we have a better chance of understanding how to do it.
For kindness (that kindness of which I speak is supernatural, is sacred): it is our only way forward in this messy here and now. It is the light that leads us. It is the hope that holds us. And it is perfectly embodied in the One who knew it, breathed it, lived it. Our example. The One we uphold as the truest picture of loving care.
Jesus. Lover of humanity. Kindest of the kind; gentle and gracious.
It is His kindness which is everything. Which we seek to model and exude.
Without which, we have nothing.
And it is His kindness which I know holds her in the hollow of His gentle hand. Even now, in the darkness of this dying night.
Even now. And forevermore.