The Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living

I don’t know if fear is the undercurrent of most people’s life, but it definitely is mine. I’ve lived long enough to know that there are things to be frightened of. In fact, I am more astonished that the world is as safe a place as it is–most of the time, or at least my little corner of it–than I am that horrific things can and do happen to folks daily. Inhumane acts don’t surprise me, but nice people do.

I know, sounds all bitter and cynical, right? Maybe.

Recently someone did something nice for me.  She cleaned my car. We had traded cars for the day because she was doing something else nice for me; taking my car to get it serviced. Granted, we were using my car for a joint road trip, and my job doesn’t allow for errands or car servicing, so she volunteered. When we traded back, she proudly showed me her handiwork. My car, the one that hauls plants around, the one you could likely grow a plant in, was spotless. I hope I was appropriately grateful, but I may not have been, because I was stunned.

I don’t say this to paint a picture of how pitiful I am, but no one, outside of my family, has ever done anything on that caliber of kindness for me before. It was work that took quite a bit of time away from her day. How crazy is that?

To be truthful, and thus look a bit less pitiful, recently again, this time at work, I was grumbling about a co-worker to a co-worker. The person I was grumbling too, kindly reminded me to be kind. It was a good reminder, and I appreciated her forthrightness in setting me straight. Kindness is a virtue I am learning. I want to be kind, but really, I think I want others to be kind first, then I’ll be kind.

But, maybe, they’re waiting for me.

It seems to me that fear is not spurred by the actions of others toward us, but by their indifference. During my divorce, I was terrified of my future. How would I support myself? Where would I live? Could I parent and grandparent alone? All of that was big, scary stuff, but the most fearful component was not the unknown, but the new and complete indifference my ex regarded me with. The man who made sure my car was cleaned and serviced for 20 years, was now the man who wanted me out of “his” house. Watching that transformation was frightening. I could have used a bit of kindness. I wanted to scream at him, “Hello, my name is Cinthia!” I wanted to be seen, even in the process of dissolving our marriage, which is what I think kindness is, seeing someone.  Even the person who is mean. Even the person who participates in making the world a scarier place, because if you can see the image of God carved out in that person, then surely, you can see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

And, maybe, be kind first.