If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~Dalai Lama
I wish I could say kindness comes easy to me. I wish I could say I could accept kindness gracefully. I wish I could say that kindness was a common thing instead of a rarity.
Kindness is one of those elusive, godlike qualities that cannot be owned and cannot be faked. It shines from within.
My own personal trial while facing the possibility of cancer was a lesson in humility for me. The absolute hardest part of going through something so earth shaking and terrifying was accepting the kindness of others. There were days when the smile of a cashier at the grocery store or a passerby would set me off. When I found out I had to have a biopsy and how much it would cost, the absurdity of the way things work in this country left me fearful and scrambling for solutions not for the possibility that I might have had cancer, but for how I would ever pay for it. Our insurance at the time carried an absurd $10,000 deductible, and the procedure would cost just over that. When a stranger I had never met told me over the phone that a grant would pay for my treatment at the best cancer center in the area, I couldn't stop crying. On the phone with a stranger. Her name was also Jennifer, and I could feel her kindness flowing over me through the telephone like sunshine. I thought it would kill me.
Why is that so hard for me? What is it about accepting kindness that opens the floodgates?
There's something about looking kindness straight in the eye that makes me feel I am in the presence of something otherworldly. Annie, from the waiting room at the cancer center, was the kindest of all. You can read about her here. There she was with her teenage son on the phone and her cancer. I'll never know what she's been through. I only know that her eyes were the kindest, most compassionate I gazed into during those dark days. Her red hair reminded me of a carnival and her smile was like poppies in the sun.
What a gift she gave me. What an angel.
Maybe that is why kindness is the greatest virtue of all. Those who possess don't even know it at all.