The Importance of Being Kind

Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses.  ~Proverb

A friend of mine says you can’t fix stupid, and she’s 100 percent right.

But maybe it’s possible to fix pettiness.

Like the other day in church.

A youngster, probably aged eight or nine judging by the fact that I hadn’t seen him as an altar server at this Mass before, was doing his best to light about a dozen candles . . . and having some trouble with it.

You see, the candles were brand new. Very tall, with obviously pristine wicks.

He was using one of those awkward candlelighters, maybe for the first time.

And he was short, as many young boys are, so he couldn’t see the wicks to light them.

Now one of the ushers had volunteered to help, but he obviously believed the best way to help somebody is to let them try for themselves, then step in if needed or requested.

The entire time Altar Server and Usher were on the altar riding the Struggle Bus over the candles, some woman a couple of rows behind me was grousing.

Out loud.

The kid wasn’t doing it right. Wasn’t fast enough. Wasn’t watching to make sure the sleeve of his robe didn’t catch fire. And the Usher wasn’t helping either. Just standing around watching.

I was horrified to realize everybody around her must have heard her complaints.

Eventually, fed up, I whirled around and glared at her. (I know, it wasn’t exactly the Christian thing to do, but I’d had enough of her barbs.)

And miraculously, she quieted down!

This slice of life started me thinking. Catholic Churches aren’t big on bringing guests to Mass — not like our Protestant brethren.

But what if I’d had a guest? Or what if somebody near me had? How embarrassed would we all be with one of our own criticizing a young’un for being small, with a lot yet to learn?

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

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22 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Kind

  1. Poor little chap was doing his best, I’m sure! How quickly we forget that we ALL have to learn, to grow, to get better at things. Whenever I am stuck behind a learner driver, I always remind myself when I was in their shoes, terrified and trying desperately to concentrate. Give everyone a little space to find their way, because someone had to give us that space once.

    • This is so true, my friend. I remember being scared to drive, too, and it was challenging learning on a stick shift. Even now, after that bad accident I had almost two years ago, I’m still a tad shaky. Maybe we all need to cut each other a little slack.

    • Yes, indeed! Just after I passed my test, I drove across the five-lane motorway through Glasgow for the first time and became so terrified by all the traffic, I couldn’t change lanes. Some people were riding my tail and trying to hurry me up, which of course was making me worse, but a guy in a lorry must have been able to tell from my driving that I was having a problem, so he tucked his huge truck behind me and kept everyone else away, clearing lanes for me to get across and then waved ‘bye as I finally turned onto my off-ramp. Thirty years on I still remember that act of kindness…

      • Aw, great story, FF! What a darling man to help you out! This sounds like me driving in Chicago — so terrified I can hardly breathe. Everybody seems to be in such a hurry, switching lanes right and left. That’s why I opt for the train whenever I need to go see Domer. And when I ride with him up there, I curl into a ball and shut my eyes tight!!

      • What a gentleman! Such a lovely thing to do and it has stayed with you to this day. It is easy to forget that there are many, many kind people in the world and we should all try to remember to be one of them. This slips my mind whenever I get hungry, though… ;)

  2. Uhm maybe she could have tired praying during this time? Asked God to help this short little fire starter and blessed him and the usher for their effort?
    And the Southern HONOR…of behaving! Never enough of that! Because what will people think! :-D.
    I think your glare was well deserved! And if God wasn’t so busy making sure shorty didn’t catch his sleeve on fire, I bet he would have smiled down on you! (missed me didn’t you?)
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Um, yeah, that’s theoretically what she was in church for, to pray! I just hope this little guy didn’t hear her nastiness and suffer a crisis of confidence.

      You caught me being Southern, Katybeth! Even though Illinois is “home,” my Mississippi-bred parents raised me as a Southerner, and I was saying “y’all” before I went to kindergarten. Old habits die hard, don’t they?

      Of course I missed you! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We did, too!

  3. Debbie, I absolutely LOVE the opening quote – how true!!!

    It’s funny because I am normally a very impatient person. However, when it comes to children (and also the elderly and animals) I am very patient and understanding. As one of your readers mentioned in her comment, how quickly we forget that we ALL have to learn, to grow, to get better at things; giving them their space.

    I’ve learned that sometimes the most empowering thing we can do for others is to allow them to find their own way.

    FAB post, my friend! Hope your Thanksgiving was beautiful!
    X

    • “I’ve learned that sometimes the most empowering thing we can do for others is to allow them to find their own way.” Ron, I love that statement! It’s very wise, you know, and very true, too.

      I never think I have a lot of patience either, but lately I’m seeing that I’m learning to have it. I don’t guess I’ll ever have patience with stupidity or rudeness or vulgarity, but when someone’s trying his best, it’s hard to fault him.

      Yes, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Did you work Black Friday?? xo

  4. I couldn’t help being surprised that the altar guild hadn’t pre-burned the wicks. Back in the day when I was involved with such things, that was the common practice. By burning the wicks ahead of time, it makes them much easier to light — and eliminates the need for congregants to do a slow burn in the pews!

    • Never heard of that, Linda, but what a helpful idea. I might have to suggest it to the altar society ladies. I suspect such a practice would be most welcome by the altar servers. I’ve noticed that of late, they’re using shorter candles, making the lighting less of an ordeal though.

  5. She sounds horrendous! I can’t believe anyone would be so petty and to a child at that. I work with kids and this truly annoyed me. How else can we expect them to learn? I’m glad you turned and glared at her, ha ha. She deserved it :D

    • Well, I’m not proud of it, but I couldn’t help myself. My mom would be horrified to learn I was “rude” to one of my elders, but gee, somebody had to do something. I was afraid the poor kid would hear her!

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