Recently I have been feeling pretty defeated about the ways we have been treating one another in our country. It happens in all sorts of ways. It happens in the tribalism in politics that makes us unable to even listen to alternate perspectives or work toward respectful compromise. It happens in the ways in which we give ourselves permission to believe stereotypes instead of getting to know individuals. It happens in the ways in which truth is distorted and disregarded. It even happens in our wonderful hometown, when people submit hateful, anonymous comments in what our local paper calls “The Last Word.”
I think that is why I have been finding such joy in a new endeavor here in this same hometown. I am a part of the LEAD Greater Williamsburg program, a community immersion program that provides opportunities for recognized and emergent leaders to collaborate on issues of importance to the region, run through the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance. The issue that our class is working on is kindness. I know that may sound simple or even too ephemeral, but the more we work on helping the Greater Williamsburg Area become the next Community of Kindness, the more excited I become.
The program will launch on February 1, 2019, but already I am seeing the power of kindness. First, the LEAD with Kindness program is already uncovering all kinds of efforts by schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations to promote kindness. Just learning about these efforts has lifted some of that defeatedness I had been feeling. But it has not stopped there. The more we talk about promoting, developing, and honoring kindness, the more I have started seeing kindness. I see it in my parishioners at Hickory Neck, I see it in my family members, and I even see it in that “Last Word” column in the paper. And the more I see kindness, the more inspired I become to live into kindness – in fact, the more I see the loving-kindness, or hesed, of our God in others.
You will be hearing a lot more from me about this kindness project, my dreams for seeing the Greater Williamsburg area become the next Community of Kindness, and our church’s role in the movement. But for now, I invite you to try a few things. First, put on your “kindness glasses,” and just start looking around you for acts of kindness you see every day. Two, acknowledge the kindness you see around you – whether it’s a high five, a pat on the back, or even a note about how someone’s kindness inspired you. And three, perform one act of kindness today. It does not have to be anything grandiose. Just one small act of kindness. And then let me know about it. Let’s let God’s loving-kindness take root in us, transforming our community, our region, and maybe even the world!