Once, when I was going through something hard, a friend brought takeout food for my family. It did not matter to me that she didn’t spend hours cooking it. What mattered was that she thought of us, connected and gave us a meal. It was one less thing to think about during that rough season. I still remember it.
The Hebrew word for lovingkindness is chesed. It means kindness between people or the love and mercy of God for humanity. It is frequently used in the Psalms.
Another time I was going through something hard, I realized no one knew what to say to me. No one could, with their words, fix what was happening. You know what people did instead? Small acts of lovingkindness or chesed: cards, texts, a warm muffin, a meal, flowers.
When I look at what is happening to us now with this global pandemic these small acts of lovingkindness are truly the bright spots in an otherwise dark, scary and uncertain time.
A few that I have seen myself or heard about from people I know:
On the shared trails where I walk, the path now has something new, handpainted stones. Each says something different. My favorite is pictured here.
Many trees in my neighborhood now bear white ribbons in support of health care workers.
A neighbor made lots of us handmade pillows with different messages. Mine says faith. They have a ribbon on them and many of us are displaying them on our doors.
Several houses have teddy bears in the windows so that children on family walks can look for them, scavenger hunt style.
At a senior adult community where one of my friends lives, everyone comes out of their house at 3 p.m. and does the hokey pokey together in the street while socially distanced. Seriously. This is how they greet and check on each other every day.
People are taking it upon themselves to connect with the elderly and those sheltering alone.
People are buying groceries or bringing meals to shut-ins.
Packages of toilet paper, a hard to find item, are being shared when someone manages to find it.
In one church the members are giving $100 gift cards to everyone living in two different mobile home parks hardest hit already by the economic impact of these times. The same church has had two casserole days where all of those families receive a homemade casserole, sanitized and safely delivered.
A friend brought my daughter a big supply of goldfish snacks knowing she was sheltering at home with two hungry toddlers.
People are showing up in their cars at hospital shift change with signs, uplifting music and well wishes for healthcare workers finishing a hard shift or starting one.
One of my clergy friends delivered small succulents to the door steps of her church members with tiny signs that reminded them God was doing a new thing.
All kinds of thoughtful front porch drops are happening. One of my friends left a brand new sloth puzzle on my porch knowing I secretly want to be a sloth and am also working puzzles right now as if my life depended on it.
Several people I know are making masks for all of us.
I used to say there are two kinds of people: those who need to receive a small act of kindness to get us through our hard seasons and those who need to be delivering those small acts of kindness. I used to challenge people to do one or the the other depending on your current state: receive or give.
I’m changing that advice in our Covid season. We ALL need to do both. It helps you to be a bright spot, God’s Light and lovingkindness. It also helps you to receive one…and to be able to say to yourself, “Here’s my sign, here’s my hope for today, here’s my bright spot.” Claim it. Give God thanks for it. Sloth puzzle on the doorstep? Painted rock on the walking trail? Teddy bear in the window? Thank you God, I see your light.
We do not have to figure this all out or know how it ends. No one does. That is an impossible task. What we do have to do now is simply step from lovingkindness to lovingkindness. Use those small acts to be your well-lit stepping stones through this dark time.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mosa to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor. To read other blog posts, to sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle, to learn about the weekly Jesus Calling Prayer Call Cindy helps to host or to see her future speaking events, go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com. This week: for the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 7 Jesus Calling and Cindy will be doing an extra weekly call live at 7 a.m. CST or listen to the recording will be posted on Facebook later that day and at http://www.Jesuscalling.com.