Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.




Ephesians 4:32
Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.

Luke 6:35-38
35 Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people.
36 Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.
37 “Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion– packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing– will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return.”


The poem really struck me when I read it first – I had to read it a few times, savoring every word again. There is so much truth in it… And it feels that so much of that is lacking in the world today – the ability to look at one another and honor the pain and sorrow and grief that each person carries… That brought them to the point of what they are and have become in this life.

This week we are passing the one year anniversary of shutting down our world due to a new virus circulating – a pandemic called COVID-19. We were scared and frightened; we thought it would be over in a few weeks; we did not know what to do and how to deal with it. The rug was pulled out from under us.

Since then, more than 500,000 people died. Many are still struggling with the long-term effects. Millions lost their jobs; their livelihoods. Children lost a year’s worth of school. Many went and are still going hungry, some lost homes. All had to find a new way to adapt their lives… so many were lonely and still are. Many were bored, a lot had to put their lives on the line to care for those who were and are ill, or to keep us fed and to meet our needs. All lost something…

Seems to me, we all need a little understanding, a lot of kindness and a lot of compassion. Seems to me that we all need armloads full of love. Seems to me that if we follow Jesus’ instructions from the sermon on the plain we will stop judging, start forgiving, stop condemning and look on everyone else with compassion. Yes, even those whose actions and words we don’t completely understand, unless we know exactly what brought them here.

The world all can use a lot more compassion – the same compassion that God shows us in the death of Christ on a cross.

Let’s pray

May the wisdom of our elders be
written upon our hearts,
May the presence of the Saints
be woven into our beings,
May the peace of Christ be
with us always,
for all the days of our lives.