Saturday, April 01, 2017

NPM 2017 Day One: Kindness

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

Let's kick this month off with a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. Before you read it, just give a listen.

This part of the poem, in particular, speaks to me.

Excerpt from Kindness
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Read the poem in its entirety.

What does it mean to be kind?
Kindness's original meaning of kinship or sameness has stretched over time to encompass sentiments that today go by a wide variety of names—sympathy, generosity, altruism, benevolence, humanity, compassion, pity, empathy—and that in the past were known by other terms as well, notably philanthropia (love of mankind) and caritas (neighborly or brotherly love). The precise meanings of these words vary, but fundamentally they all denote what the Victorians called "open-heartedness," the sympathetic expansiveness linking self to other. – from On Kindness (2010), written by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor Picador
I believe we could all use a lot more kindness in our lives. Imagine how different our world would be if we were to embrace this simple "open-heartedness."

I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
"A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees." - Amelia Earhart

Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow. 

1 comment:

  1. You must speak to it till your voice
    catches the thread of all sorrows
    and you see the size of the cloth.

    One of the wonderful things I got to discuss with my last classroom visit (via Skype) was the Dalai Lama's statement, "Kindness is my only rule," which is something the characters in PEAS AND CARROTS said. The students discussed if that was something that was workable in real life - and we concluded that it was, in terms of "do to others what you would have them do to you." It was fun to watch them sort of have an epiphany moment with it.