Searching for a Kind Heart in Times Like This
by Kathy Ross
I am reading Walking Home from Mongolia, an account of two men’s walk from Mongolia to Hong Kong. Early in the book, its author, Rob Lilwall, reflects on how he hopes to manage the challenges of their walk. He sets his intention for the journey this way. If “… I found myself in the thick of hard times, and I let my heart become embittered and turned to stone, that really would be a big failure.” He goes on to say that he prays for “a kind heart” as they begin this three thousand mile journey in the dead of winter.
Although that adventure is very different from our current circumstance, the notion of how I come out of this, “kind heart” or not, has made me think about this unique time.
My heart is lightened by my Whitewater family’s attention – errand runs without my asking and frequent contact. (I do, however, join, other grandparents who agree that no electronic communication replaces a hug!) As a Prairie Village resident, I am grateful for front yard conversations, a neighborhood walk, and plenty of walking trails. I am equally as grateful for the generosity of Fairhaven for a front-door delivered Easter lunch, grocery delivery, and electronically-enabled Sunday Night Vespers. I appreciate our Whitewater library being available by phone during this time – and soon open for hold pick-ups. Throughout all of this, the library’s Little Free Food Pantry has been available for donations or for those in need. (Have you noticed the library has added Hoopla, a free streaming service?). I know that our School District, teachers, and staff are working in amazing ways to support students.
My regular walks are more frequent and longer these days. Starin Park’s closing was one of the first things that made this very real. The elementary schools’ play grounds just aren’t “right” without kids. Walking around campus and seeing almost nobody is reasonable during the summer, but not in April. There certainly have been times when I could walk right down the middle of Main Street and not see a single moving car. Empty churches on Sunday mornings –who would have ever thought? And cheap gas – I’ve no idea when I’ll ever need any again, but it’s interesting to consider the cost of a fill-up. Special thanks, fellow Whitewater walkers, for safe distancing and saying hello.
I have a sister in a long term care facility in North Carolina who calls regularly to say she’s on lockdown, and she’s worried about all the news. Just as regularly, I remind her that she’s not the only one whose movement is currently restricted and encourage her to stop watching the news. I have a friend in North Carolina who’s scheduled a haircut since some places of business are reopened there. I asked her to see if the hairdresser would come to her for “a carport cut.” Am I being kind enough to them? They are adults; they can make their own decisions. They really don’t need my input. These are situations that make me consider what a “kind heart” really means.
I will continue to ponder and pray for a kind heart. There are many possibilities where it’s easy to be kind – contributing to programs that are helping those in need, calling or writing (yes, the joy of snail mail) friends. Then there are those times when I feel “water boarded” by the news (mind you, that’s the news I tell my sister not to watch!) or am concerned whether others are making smart decisions. I lapse into “what if’s,” and wonder what my family, friends and I’ll do in the “new normal.” Hopefully, I’ll join the author of my book and emerge from this without letting “my heart become embittered and turned to stone.” But I know I have work to do.
— Our thanks to Kathy Ross for sharing her thoughtful reflections.
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