photos and writings by June Friesen
As I prepared to write this post, I decided to do some research on the internet first. I was fascinated to learn that it was the result of a worldwide convention in Toyko, Japan in 1997. Another little detail I picked up is – it is usually celebrated with the sharing of yellow flowers with others, hence please enjoy the photos from my collection of yellow flowers.
The reason for World Kindness Day is detailed by the World Kindness Movement: “To highlight good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us.” (copied from Days of the Year – World Kindness Day.)
I find it interesting that Toyko is the origin of the first discussion of this practice of kindness. In 1989 I had the privilege of spending three weeks in Toyko as a part of a homestay exchange program. One of the things that impressed me was the incredible kindness of people. I remember so vividly the importance of everyone making sure I had everything I needed. One family had a notebook with Japanese sentences translated into English as they knew little English and I knew little Japanese. This to me is a great picture/illustration of how we should treat each other without making excuses. It should not matter what language one speaks, what country one lives in, or what country one comes from, or the color of one’s skin, what occupation one has, or whether one is poor or rich. When we go to the Scriptures we are encouraged to ‘love others as God has loved each one of us.’ I am reminded of one of the first Bible verses I ever learned as a child:
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
The Message translation reads: 31-32 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. I included both verses from the Message as I believe that it is a good explanation between how one is kind and how one is unkind.
Colossians 3:12-14 (The Message)
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
As I have considered these verses as well as some readings on kindness I reflect on the contrast of kindness and unkindness. I realize that there are those of us who are called to different walks of life that bring us into contact with many different kinds of people and many different kinds of situations. When I first met my husband 53 years ago, I became aware pretty quickly of his tender, compassionate heart for people. During our 4 years of dating before marriage, of which two separated us by over 2,000 miles, he challenged me at times about my actions and words. You see I had grown up with sarcasm being ‘normal’ and I also caught and adopted a very judgmental attitude from my home/family and religious life through my childhood and school age years. After we were married and we were immediately active in the church he had been attending, I began to learn that kindness was a more acceptable way of reaching people with the love of Jesus. Oh, there were times when Jesus and I had to have what I now call ‘Come to Jesus’ talks when I was frustrated or angry or confused…..but patience on God’s part and especially patient teaching, caring and forgiveness on my husband’s part helped me learn what it really was to practice kindness and forgiveness like God has done for me. So, if you are discouraged today or find yourself saying – ‘There are just people I cannot be kind to’ or ‘why should I be kind after what someone said/did to me’ – I was there and I have changed. Am I perfect at it all the time – no; but I continue to seek God’s forgiveness when I fail, and then move forward, sometimes with baby steps, sometimes with just one or two steps at a time….but trusting God to help me and He has and does. I would also like to say here before I go on that there are situations where we need to remove ourselves; if someone is abusing us and/or others and is unwilling to change one may need to sever that relationship. I believe that God also wants us to be kind to ourselves.
THE KINDNESS OF THE SUN SHINE/ SON SHINE
As I ponder the beauty of the yellow flowers around me,
I cannot help but feel my spirit warmed as if by the sun;
The yellow rose invites one to breathe deeply its sweetness
Just as the Spirit invites one to breathe deeply Its presence –
Allow the sweetness, the freshness bathe your inner spirit
With cooling peace and gentle love……..
As I ponder the beauty of the sunflower(s) upon my pathway,
What wonder they bring to my spirit,
I see them dancing as the breeze trickles through the field,
I see them continually slowly moving always to embrace the sun,
I see the bees playing within their blossoms gathering pollen
As well as scattering pollen from one flower to the other
Providing that necessary cross-pollination relationship necessary for seed to grow.
I see the many other yellow flowers along my pathway –
The gladiolas, the daisies, snapdragons, and so many more
All delightfully displaying their beauty in the world
Calling to me – come and ‘be with us’ a moment or two….
Let us kindle a warming kindness within you dear friend,
To carry and share in the world where you will be this day.
Yes, God calls us through His beautiful creation to come…..
To see with our eyes His beauty around us,
To hear with our ears His cheerful sounds of birds, rippling waters, and fluttering wings,
To feel the gentle breeze touching us with peace,
To taste the purity of the air as we open our mouth to inhale a breath,
To touch the flower petal, the tree leaf, the blade of grass, the fur of an animal,
To embrace this full circle of kindness around us with our senses –
Kindness embraced is kindness received –
Kindness received is kindness to share –
Let us go forward into this day and every day –
Doing kind deeds and blessing the world.
God’s world is full of wonder–meditate on something beautiful and experience the awe. Pairing images with prayers, we offer many different types of artful focus for your quiet times. Prayer cards are available for different seasons and reasons from Advent to Lent or as Celtic prayers, Breath prayers, prayers of Wonder, or prayers for a Pause. Most are available to download, or in sets of 1 or 3–so you can enjoy in your own devotions and gift some beauty to a friend! Visit our shop to see our many selections!