Thirty Days of Love

Many members of my church are taking part in a social justice movement called “Thirty Days of Love” hosted by Standing on the Side of Love: Harnessing Love’s Power to Stop Oppression. This is a wonderful community of people from all religious backgrounds, faiths, and spiritual practices who are united in the common belief that love is the ultimate guiding force of our world. The Thirty Days of Love is “a period of intentional action, service, education, and reflection to focus on this essential work.” You can sign up to receive an email every day with essential questions to consider and reflect upon.

I found yesterday’s message by Alex Patchin McNeill, the Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians, to be particularly moving. I wanted to share his words with you:

“As you move through your day today, I invite you to practice an act of radical love: strive to see the beauty in all people, especially those you struggle with. Part of this practice is recognizing that whether or not we show it, each of us moves through the world hiding scars, covering up what we think the world [would] deem ugly if we were truly seen. It is easy to see beauty and practice compassion toward those we like or enjoy the company of; it is far, far harder to see beauty and practice compassion in the face of people who frustrate us, or, worse yet, actively hate us. Practicing love in the face of oppression is incredibly difficult, but it starts small, with practicing love every time we struggle with another person for any reason.”

Questions of the morning:

  • How do you define true beauty?
  • Have you ever had the experience of practicing love or kindness in the face of oppression, anger or meanness?

year of kindness challenge: week 15

year of kindness button

It has taken me a while to write this post because I am just heartsick over the terrible tragedy that happened in Boston. When acts of hatred and violence happen, the impulse can be to sink into fear and despair. What good do small acts of kindness really serve? What are flowers and thank you notes and cookies and free cups of hot chocolate in the face of bombs and guns?

But I think, in moments like this, kindness matters more than ever.

It was difficult watching the footage from the Boston Marathon today — the blood, the smoke, the confusion and fear, all those innocent people who had come together to celebrate and support one another. But then my brother pointed something out to me — he said, “Did you notice all the people who ran TOWARDS the explosion, going into the fray to help?” And once I noticed that, a scene of intense despair became an incredibly moving portrayal of heroes.

Then I came across this on Twitter:

boston heroes

And these two articles about the amazing acts of kindness and love committed by everyday heroes in Boston:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/04/15/boston-marathon-blast-help/2086273/

http://www.businessinsider.com/inspiring-images-from-boston-2013-4

In the midst of so much sadness and horror, my heart swells with gratitude and wonder at human compassion.

One of my friends on Facebook posted a note that really struck a chord with me — and touched on the whole purpose of this year of kindness challenge — so I wanted to share it with you, too:

I think that we can’t let ourselves be made powerless by acts like this, and we need to use this as a reason, if we didn’t have one before, of stepping up and helping someone else. Even if you don’t live anywhere near Boston. Go to your local Red Cross and donate blood; go to your local soup kitchen and spend some time helping those who are less fortunate than we all are; go donate books to a library; go donate your time and your considerable skills to help someone write better, sing better, paint better, sculpt better, whatever.

 

I don’t have a lot to offer, but I’ve got blood, and I’ve got a head full of poems and stories and some words that mean something to me, and hopefully that can mean something to someone else, too. Days like these are such a stark reminder of how fragile life is, so if our time here is so short, shouldn’t we use at least a little bit of that time to go out and help out other people?

 

mr rogers quote

I was thinking how the most precious thing we can give to others is our time. So the kindness challenge this week is to simply spend meaningful time with someone else you otherwise might not see. Call up an old friend and make a lunch date. Invite your neighbor to go on a walk. Ask that shy coworker if they’d like to grab coffee. Spend some time this week reaching out and connecting with someone else.

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

In love, hope & kindness,
-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
week 14 challenge: donate books