Guest Post on Kindness

Today’s guest post is by my friend Heather Horst, and fits right in with a campaign by Indy Holistic Hub to spread kindness in December. #GetYourKindnessOn is the hashtag we are using to shine a light on compassionate acts we encounter. (I’ve found it quite uplifting, during these fractious days, to tune my radar to kindness. If we watch for compassion, nourish it, and spread it, we can’t help but magnify light.)

Guest post by Heather Horst

Lately I’ve been fostering a dog who is both gravely ill and incredibly sweet. Her name is Joy, and she’s pictured here.

Joy and Heather (780x701)

Joy and Heather

I’ve also been called out to do massage therapy during a friend’s labor and delivery. Between the two, there has been so much kindness. I’ve experienced so much support in caring for Joy. I’ve witnessed so much kindness and care for my brave friend as she worked hard to bring her baby into the world.

When I glance from my real life to national and world news, it’s culture shock. Because I’m not hearing about kindness. I’m hearing about brutality and a turning-away from the suffering of others, a turning-away from one’s own humanity.

I don’t accept that this is our true nature. It feels like a brokenness, a wound, an illness.

I trust that kindness is our true nature. That one day so many of us will be healed by (and healed to) kindness. So many of us will heal that when brutality or callousness appears among us, we will recognize it as an aberration.

We will surround it and heal it and not give it weapons or money or media attention.

…when brutality or callousness appears among us, we will recognize it as an aberration. We will surround it and heal it and not give it weapons or money or media attention.

I trust that kindness is our true nature. To those of you who have been carrying out these many kindnesses — THANK YOU! You heal my heart.

Heather is a nurse, a massage therapist, a spinstress of hula hoops and an amateur urban farmer. She lives, works, and plays in Goshen, Indiana.

 

 

The Steps We Take Now

“We can indeed transform the world, and we are each called to take part in this sacred work.”

—Desmond Tutu, from the Foreword of Random Kindness

It seems that every day brings news of another horrific act of violence. The level of cruelty reaches appalling levels. Where are we going and why are we in a handbasket, as my mother would say?

But recently I got my hands on the reissue of this beautiful book, and it is like an inoculation against hopelessness.

Are we moving “closer and closer to a world where everyone is dead for no reason,” as the book describes one possible scenario? Or are we waking up to the fact that “we’re all making the soup we’re all eating?”

I first learned of this fabulously illustrated work from my sister Mesa Refuge resident Paloma Pavel, who is a total powerhouse. Years ago she started working in the anti-nuclear movement with Joanna Macy (my idol!), and she hasn’t stopped advocating since.*

Paloma coauthored the lovely little book expanding on the saying Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty. Her coauthor, Anne Herbert, originated this statement, and the two originally collaborated on Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty in response to the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.

An artist named Mayumi Oda (the “Matisse of Japan”) illustrated the book in a traditional folk art style based on 12th century Japanese picture scrolls. Frogs, cats, monkeys, birds, and rabbits play the part of humans on a dual path—will they (we) choose destruction, or delight?

Historically in Japan, this type of folk art used animal representations to spread subversive messages. It seems an apt medium for a book that proclaims, “We are all leaders now.”

The 20th anniversary edition has just been published. I had the thrill of hearing Paloma read its lyrical text on our last night at Mesa Refuge, a full year before the book was reissued.

Myself, Sierra Murdoch,  Jerry and Gail Needleman, and Paloma Pavel at Mesa Refuge

Myself, Sierra Murdoch, Jerry and Gail Needleman, and Paloma Pavel at Mesa Refuge

So beautiful:

“The steps we take now
Make new earth grow beneath our feet.”

“In every moment we live
We have the choice
To find the fight
Or make delight
We have power.

To hear Paloma read the full text aloud was just magic.

I borrowed the book from the library for now, but I plan to purchase my own copy. All royalties will be donated to antinuclear advocacy and community resilience across boundaries.

*Check out more of Paloma’s work at Earth House Center and Breakthrough Communities.