Bringing Forth Kindness: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
I returned from a 10-day seminar in the wee hours of Monday morning. When I woke later that morning to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I saw volunteer opportunities listed on my phone – how to put King’s vision to work and make this world a place of greater love and kindness.
Then on Tuesday morning, I was inspired to listen to Stevie Wonder. His early music was presented in the seminar I’d attended, and I wanted to start my day to his beat. I found a YouTube playlist, and clicked. Before long I was hearing the following words from “I’ll Be Loving You Always:”
As around the sun the earth knows she’s revolving
And the rosebuds know to bloom in early May
Just as hate knows love’s the cure
You can rest your mind assured
That I’ll be loving you always…
When I heard this song back in my younger years, I thought it was about a specific person. But today I heard it differently, as a universal call. Maybe it’s the divine presence that is loving us always. Maybe it’s the possibility of each of us loving one another always and in all ways.
Stevie, in his deep wisdom, continued his song:
Did you know that true love asks for nothing
Her acceptance is the way we pay…
Just as kindness knows no shame
Know through all your joy and pain
That I’ll be loving you always
We are offered here an invitation to bring kindness into the world, to shine through whatever is showing up in our life at that moment. Awhile back I had jury duty and when I went through security I greeted a woman, an agent checking bags. I asked her, “How are you today?”
She replied, “Great, now that you asked. I’m now going to have a great day.”
Wow. How simple it is to make – or break – someone else’s day. I carried with me the joy that I had touched her, and the sadness that it seemed that a simple outreach like this happened way too infrequently in her life.
Who can you be kind to today? Tomorrow? The next day? It could be someone you know – even your dearest loved one – or a coworker, or someone you haven’t met. Can you stretch a little, beyond the norm? How about extending kindness to someone you would specifically avoid, or that you judge unfavorably? Let’s bring in love, to places familiar and to places that may be uncomfortable.
Stevie cautions us:
So make sure when you say you’re in it but not of it
You’re not helping to make this earth a place sometimes called Hell
Change your words into truths and then change that truth into love
And maybe our children’s grandchildren
And their great-great grandchildren will tell
I’ll be loving you…
Sure, I’d love our children’s grandchildren and beyond to experience love and kindness. But more surely, I am hoping we don’t have to wait that long. If we each take responsibility, we can bring King’s vision of a loving world where all are treated with respect and equity to fruition right now.
Rabbi Robin Damsky