Several years ago, I participated in a three-day walk to raise money for breast cancer research and prevention. The whole event was carefully constructed and well managed. In addition to the logistics of directing, feeding and taking care of thousands of people, the organizers spent time creating an entire worldview. We were all together, working towards the same goal. We had a responsibility to each other. The theme for the weekend was “Human Kindness.” They told us to be kind to each other, and we were.
When I went home from the event, I felt a little sad that the whole world did not share that basic drive to be kind to each other. I tried to keep it going in my own life, with varied success. Some days, the tourist traffic and odd smells of public transportation made it nearly impossible.
Last weekend, I was reminded again of the importance of being kind. I went to massage a man who was on hospice. While I was there, his pastor came to pray with him and the family. I moved a discreet distance away while they shared their moment. As the pastor left, he thanked me for my work and called me an “angel” for doing it. I thanked him and went back to the massage.
Later I had time to reflect on the moment, and to realize how uncomfortable it made me. Yes, I was aware of and grateful for the kind words. Yes, I was humbled by the depth of the compliment. And, yes, I felt boosted up by the acknowledgement of my work. But I remembered that three day walk, and how just by practicing kindness, we created so many deeply touching moments. It wasn’t superhuman — angelic — it was just humans taking care of one another. Is kindness really so rare in the world that it seems divine to us?
So, no, I am not an “angel,” I am simply a human, trying to be kind to other humans. On the days when it works, it can be beautiful. On the days when it doesn’t, usually there is some other human showing me how it’s done. We live on this earth, briefly. We work on this earth just the same as the people around us. Our kindness, our attention, elevates us. Be kind, humans.