On a dark rainy night passing through East St Louis last week, heart surgeon Bill Daily had a puncture. He was on his way to perform an urgent operation. At a gas station, with the tyre not holding air, he was trying to get a staff member to come and pick him up, when a black bystander overheard his distress, and drove him to the hospital. When he’d completed the operation, the surgeon faced the same problem in order to get back home.
Back at the gas station, the proprietor fetched a proper jack, and repaired the tyre for him, and then invited him in for food and drink. “God created the world and us to help one another”, he said. Neither good Samaritan would accept any payment from Dr Daily. Later Nasser, a Muslim immigrant from Palestine said: “We need to teach the younger generations how to learn from each other, love each other and respect each other.”
At a time when prominent people can label half the population “deplorables”, and in UK, other prominent people name a majority as not fit to vote for their future – too stupid, ignorant and prejudiced to take seriously – such kindness is worth more than gold. Those who voice these labels too often live in comfortable middle class or rich enclaves, blind to the poverty and misery, caused by the policies of those same so-called ‘elites.’
And so, in many places all over the world, our countries are divided. Yet the spontaneous kindness of a black American, and a Muslim immigrant, remind us all of what really matters in our societies – caring for each other.
I remembered Mildred Norman,(I’ve talked about her before ) the Peace Pilgrim, that amazing woman, who for twenty-eight years, walked the length and breadth of the States seven times with her message of peace. She carried nothing but a few items in the pockets of her jerkin, which was emblazoned with the words: Peace Pilgrim. From 1953 until her death in 1981, she walked to remind people of peace.
She walked through the Korean War, Vietnam War, and all the other conflicts, until the day she died. She had no means of sustenance, eating when she was given food, and sleeping wherever she was. Usually people recognised her goodness and gave her a bed… ” walking until given shelter, fasting until given food”. When she reached 25,000 miles in 1964, she gave up counting.
Ironically, she was killed in a car crash while being taken to speak to a meeting. She was seventy-one, a gentle, silver-haired, blue-eyed woman with a tanned complexion. Wherever she went all over the States, she met with kindness.
Then there was Australian Don Ritchie, ‘The Angel of the Gap’. I can’t read about this beautiful man without tears blurring my eyes. He retired as a salesman, and bought a house with a marvellous view of the ocean just outside Sydney, which overlooked a dangerous drop, famous for the number of suicides there. He spent the rest of his life looking out of the window at that famous view. Not to enjoy the view, but – “for a far greater purpose,” as one obituary put it – to rescue those who came to end their lives.
As soon as he saw someone lingering there, he walked across to them smiling, with his hands out, palms up – what a beautiful, instinctive gesture of peace and non-violence. “Is there something I can do to help you?” he would ask. He talked to them until they were ready to pick up their shoes, and their wallet, and their note, and to come back to his house where his wife had a cup of tea waiting for them.
Sometimes he risked his life struggling with those who were determined to jump. The official count of the lives he saved is a hundred and sixty- four, but those who knew him believe the figure to be nearer five hundred. Bottles of champagne and cards arrived for him for years after from those whose lives he’d saved.
He used to say: “never under-estimate the power of a kind word and a smile”. He died a few years ago at eighty-six, proof that no-one needs special training to serve their world, that love makes a difference, that great goodness is to be found in ‘ordinary’ people ( if indeed they are ordinary) as well as in spiritual mentors…
This goodness is also what I’ve found in so many blogs I read. Some I never miss… not witty or intellectual or spiritual, but filled with a sweetness and a simple goodness that lights up my day… they make me think of that haunting little Shaker hymn ‘Simple Gifts’… their goodness is a gift, a simple uncomplicated sort of goodness, spontaneous and undemanding. Reading these gentle blogs about ordinary events and everyday lives, filled with the enjoyment of weather and animals and growing things is like smelling a flower.
As the years have gone by, I’ve come to a deeper appreciation of the world of blogging. I’ve come to see that there are those who are sick, but never reveal it, who use blogging as their way of meeting and communicating with others. Some are coping with family illness, death, dementia, and other domestic challenges.
They receive kindness and understanding and a listening ear from the blogging world, and in our turn, our eyes are opened to the depths of life, and truths about the human condition. We gain from the perceptions and understandings and resolutions they reach. Some use blogging as a comfort and a support as they search for a job, or a purpose, or tackle a new challenge, and receive friendship and support for their journey – and some write for fun about their passions.
Blogging can be an education and can link us all as we learn about the lives and countries of other bloggers. More importantly, we share their feelings and gain greater understanding of our global village. My general knowledge has expanded as I’ve read farming blogs, scientific blogs, climate blogs, artistic blogs, literary blogs, mystical blogs – and above all – I’ve made beautiful friends I love and care about.
And the kindness of bloggers is the heart of it all. That’s why I think blogging has a part to play in raising the consciousness of the world. Even the self-imposed conventions of conduct that we observe – to never criticise, judge or write anything hurtful … to be supportive and respectful – are habits that can make the world a kinder place.
Kindness stimulates the flow of peace and goodwill which is what will, in the end, transform the world into a village, where we know and care about each other, and where, in Thich Nhat Hahn’s words: ‘peace is every step.’ The heart of bloggers is a part of the beating pulse of the world… so may their love and kindness prevail – so Namaste, my friends.
Google says, ‘Roughly translated, ‘namaste’ means “I bow to the God within you”, or “The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you” – a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness.’
(Doctor Daily’s story of what he called ‘grace’ can be found here)
PS ‘here’ looks perfectly normal on the formatting page… can’t understand the change in caps )
Food for Threadbare Gourmets
A few days ago, I felt that dreaded moment when something hard suddenly materialised as I chewed something soft. So, now waiting for an appointment with the dentist, I needed something that wouldn’t need much chewing. I de-frosted 500gm of minced chicken and sauted some chopped onion and some celery in a little oil and some butter.
When they were soft, I added a cup of grated carrot, my latest favourite – a grated courgette, several chopped garlic cloves, chopped thyme and a couple of bay-leaves, a squeeze of Worcestershire sauce (you can leave this out). Add the chicken to the pan to quickly brown, and then tip it all into a casserole with some chicken stock to cook slowly in the oven – less than 150 degrees.
Eaten with creamed potatoes, and pureed spinach this was just what was the dentist ordered!
Food for thought
Our spiritual path and spiritual destiny – to be in the right place at the right time. Anonymous
25 responses to “The surgeon, ‘deplorables’, kindness and bloggers”
I do agree about the blogger community – I have found wonderful amounts of love and knowledge and support out here in the blog world. And this was something I never ever expected. How lovely it is.. c
Dear Celi, how lovely to hear from you… something to do with my change of timetables these days means I only get to your comments at the very end when you’ve run out of time to read… I just wanted you to know what I wrote on one, and that is that your beautiful attention to detail and concern for the well being of all creatures, is so inspiring, and demonstrates without words, a life well lived and a life of quality- and I am grateful… though you don’t need me to tell you this… Love Valerie
I love the story about Dan, but really all stories about kindness, stories that are really much more common than those about unkind, bad, or even evil people that make the news. If each of us would keep kindness at the forefront of our actions, that world would be a very different place.
Yes, Janet, you’re right of course… every great thinker has the same message, from the Dalai Lama to Aldous Huxley, to name two !!!!
Lovely to hear from you…
I look at the world today and I’m encouraged, Valerie. I see Consciousness expanding in every act of compassion, every cry for justice, every stand in solidarity. 😉 xoM
I agree Margarita, and I feel that what is happening is causing people to look at themselves, and really define and know how they feel and what they believe in, in a way that apathy and a belief that the ‘government ‘ knows what it is doing, had lulled us into thinking we didn’t have
to think !!!
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I’m not sure that it’s just the government, Valerie. In this country, for example, the perception is that citizens only need to engage in exercising their right to vote once every four years, and then only if a candidate is worthy of their vote. There appears to be a lack of connection between everyday involvement in government, such as letting our elected representatives know what kind of job they’re doing in our behalf regularly (so easy to write an e-mail). There is also the belief that the people are powerless. It’s an ingrained and difficult belief to change. And it takes commitment and persistence. I’m optimistic that we may be exercising those rights and muscles now. 😉 xoxoM
What a beautiful post! I loved the stories you told and agree that kindness counts for everything..Have you read about Paul, our friend who walks for Peace? He walked to Rome from London and then, some months later from Rome to Jerusalem. You could catch up with him in some old posts.
I love what you say about blogging and bloggers. I, too, have learned so much about so many topics and made real friends about whom I care and whose presence is worryingly missed on occasion.
Thank you for your friendship across the miles. I just know that if we were able to sit and share a coffee together, we would talk and talk and not notice the time going by. 🙂
Hello Sally, thank you, so glad you enjoyed the blog… I do remember your friend Paul… lovely stories..and magic places to make pilgrimages..
I love what you say about friendship… what fun we would have if we could meet..and I long to see Truro and the beautiful cathedral, narrow lanes, and explore some of those wonderful places you’ve shown us.
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I would so love to show you around, take you to Charlotte’s Tea House , through Squeeze Guts Alley and into our beautiful Cathedral…. We can dream! I hope your dentist visit has solved that problem and that all is well. 🙂
Kindness is a beautiful word, filled with great strength and many narratives. Ah, Valerie, my prayer is that when I experience fear and anxiety, my “go to” place is “kindness.” We mirror the kindness that we have accepted. How interesting that my quote for this week was by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” Many hugs and lots of love coming your way.
Dear Rebecca, I so love your comments and the way you always have the most perfect and appropriate quote… I love Emerson’s quote, and it’s so true.. so often if we don’t seize the moment, but stop to think, we miss the moment, that many splendoured thing….
Much love, Valerie
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Such stories do restore faith in humanity. Although, in the case of the Australian cliff, it is a cause for great concern that so very many people had considered it was time to end their own lives.
With the pleasure of finding and connecting with wonderful people here goes the penalty of becoming so attached to them that when one learns of their illness or death it is emotionally as if it had happened to a family member. Viv a case in point.
Dear Friend, I understand your grief and pain over Viv’s cruel and unnecessary end. Hard to let go friends who are so special and irreplaceable…
And yes, your comment about so many people feeling desperate enough to want to end their lives is true, but we can at least feel joy that heroic Don Ritchie helped so many regain their will to live.
Finding silver linings is a good habit.
What a beautiful story! I thank you so very much. My maternal grandfather always said to my brother and I, “Smile! Always smile! Make sure a smile goes with you every where for you never know when that one person you meet needs that smile very much!”
Dear Linda, thank you… what a wonderful grandfather you had … the only advice I had, from one who was a step- grandfather – I didn’t have any others – was always to make sure I had at least five pounds in the bank! which made me feel guilty, as at the time, as a newly commissioned officer, I only had about thirty shillings in the world !!!!
I’ve been catching up on my blog reading and I’ve read many blogs today with the theme of kindness. It’s good to see this theme repeated here. Now, if we could spread it around the halls of government, justice, and everywhere else…
Lorna, how wonderful that you’ve found so many blogs on kindness, which means that the consciousness, not just of us ,but of many other people as well, is rising, and the practice of kindness will spread and spread… what a lovely thought … thank you … and may the Force be with you !!!!
When it comes to learning from other bloggers, I’d have to put you at the top of my list.
Although, a good friend dubbed me the “cat herder” of Friday Fictioneers, I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. One of the things that drew me to the group and has kept me in it is the diversity of writers. While we’re connected by fiction, the fact is that there are many cultures represented. I’ve traveled to such places as India, Croatia, Sussex, Australia and New Zealand without leaving my chair. I think our divided world could learn something from our little community.
Thank you for your generous, palms up, open sharing.
Rochelle, what a generous beautiful comment, thank you so much … yes the blogging world is so full of unexpected nuggets of information, intriguing people, and fascinating byways of different cultures.
And yes, as I’ve peeked at Friday Fictioneers, I can see what He meant by herding cats ( the first time I heard this phrase was when my son described trying to keep a teenage party for his daughter on the straight and narrow, as he found himself digging couples off his bed, and chasing others down the drive with his best champagne !
Thank you again for your kind (and also clever) lovely comment,
That was a beautiful post Valerie.
Thank you so much, lovely to hear from you again. Its always such a gift when some one you haven’t heard from for a while, pops up… thank you…
It is a kind gesture to keep these wonderful people’s stories alive. Thank you for reminding us that there is kindness and old values in this modern world. That is difficult to remember when being constantly barraged with terrible headines.
We have been away walking in the forests of Tasmania but I knew your lovely blog would be here when I got home again. It is probably not overstating the fact that blogs have changed my life, in all the ways you described. Only this morning I was listening to a lovely podcast interview with an Irish priest. He spoke of growing up with two languages, Irish and English which gave him his enquiring beginnings with words. He has become a facilitator (among other things) in conflict resolution and he spoke, in his gentle Irish accent, of ways in which we can connect with others through the process of genuine curiosity. ‘So when you say ‘this word’ what do you mean?’ Thank you for sharing the stories of connection and kindness, very memorable–they blurred my vision a little too… x