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A couple of weeks ago I was attending a Zoomed Quaker meeting, when one of the ‘friends’ spoke up about the great kindness she had experienced recently. It wasn’t just the kindness she had come across in the queue for the doctor’s surgery, but all the people she had met that day — on the bus, in the shops, just about everywhere. Her comments and perceptions were so generously expressed, it brightened up everyone’s day. I know this lady… and later on, somebody else pointed what we all thought… the reason that Vivienne had experienced kindness from all sorts of people was because she herself is a glowing, optimistic and cheerful soul, an authentic spirit of joy, from her nose to her toes. So, today’s theme for Words of Connection is kindness, but kindness of the unexpected variety… appreciative, reciprocal and sometimes invisible.
So what is unexpected kindness? The kind that often goes unseen. Rumi said “It’s God’s kindness to terrify you in order to lead you to safety,” and that’s just one kind of unexpected kindness. There are others. The kind that nobody notices… the host of angels – human and otherwise – looking after us all without ever expecting any thanks as they care for us, our City and our world, also leading us to safety.
We have two videos about kindness today. One you may have seen already. It’s Sarah West’s film Light in the Lockdown which showed how much kindness came from the pandemic. The other video is just designed to make us feel calm and loveable and good. It reveals nature being kind to us, and gives us an opportunity to admire its sheer glory. You might say it has nothing to do with kindness, but anything that makes us feel good has to be good. It’s an hour of the UK revealed in all its beautiful natural relaxed glory. It is called Scenic Relaxation.
We open Words of Connection with a delightful version of The 23rd Psalm, from the Nuns of All Saint’s Convent, Maryland. This is followed by a beautiful calming reading entitled Our True Home is in the Present Moment by the great Thich Nhat Hanh. And to follow this, we have a Buddhist meditation. A Prayer by the Sufi leader Hazrat Inayat Khan simply and gently reminds us of the universal connection, and how we all belong to the same family. Following this it seemed just so right to include a poem by Mary Oliver; it’s called Why I Wake Early and it explains how she starts her day ‘in happiness and kindness’. We close with a selection of inspired quotations from all over the world about kindness in its many forms.
Thank you so much for your support.
Take care at this difficult time,
Very best wishes,
THE NUN’S 23RD PSALM
All Saint’s Convent, Maryland
The Lord is my pace-setter, I shall not rush.
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals,
He provides me with images of stillness, which restore my serenity.
He leads me in ways of efficiency through calmness of mind.
And His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day,
I will not fret, for His presence is here.
His timelessness, his own importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity
By anointing my mind with His oils of tranquillity.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruit of my hours, for
I shall walk in the place of my Lord and will dwell in His house forever.
OUR TRUE HOME IS THE PRESENT MOMENT
Thich Nhat Hanh
Our true home is in the present moment.
To live in the present moment is a miracle.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment,
to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.
Peace is all around us in the world and in nature, and within us;
It is in our bodies and our spirits.
Once we learn to touch this peace,
we will be healed and transformed.
It is not a matter of faith,
it is a matter of practice.
We need only to find ways to bring our body and mind
back to the present moment so we can touch
what is refreshing, healing, and wondrous.
It is recommended that this practise needs peace — sitting quietly, breathing calmly and reciting these words to oneself.
May I be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.
May she be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.
May he be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.
May they be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.
May I be safe and free from injury.
May she be safe and free from injury.
May he be safe and free from injury.
May they be safe and free from injury.
May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.
May she be free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.
May he be free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.
May they be free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.
IN ONE FAMILY
Hazrat Inayat Khan Sufi Leader (1882 – 1927)
Send thy peace O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting,
that our souls may radiate peace.
Send thy peace O Lord, that we may think, act, and speak harmoniously.
Send thy peace O Lord, that we may be contented and thankful for Thy bountiful gifts.
Send thy peace O Lord, that amidst our worldly strife, we may enjoy Thy bliss.
Send thy peace O Lord, that we may endure all, tolerate all,
in the thought of thy grace and mercy.
Send thy peace O Lord, that our lives may become a divine vision,
and in thy light, all darkness may vanish.
Send thy peace O Lord, our father and mother, that we thy children on Earth
may unite in one family.
WHY I WAKE EARLY
Mary Oliver (1935 – 2019)
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.
WORDS AND QUOTATIONS ABOUT KINDNESS
A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.
Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.
Dalai Lama XIV
Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.
The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with joy are goodness, beauty, and truth.
It’s a little embarrassing that after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give people is to be a little kinder to each other.
Perhaps the most “spiritual” thing any of us can do is simply to look through our own eyes, see with eyes of wholeness, and act with integrity and kindness.