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Kindness in New York

posted Mar 17, 2014, 1:48 PM by Pastor Beth Olson   [ updated Mar 17, 2014, 1:48 PM by Benjamin Potter ]
I'm just back from a few days in New York City with my daughter's high school orchestra.  It was an amazing trip, and we saw a host of tourist sites:  Empire State Building, Ellis Island, 9-11 Memorial, Times Square, Lincoln Center and so much more.  For as wonderful as those places were, and as impressive each in their own way, the thing that made the biggest impact on me, I think, aside from how well the kids played at Sony Plaza, was the kindness of the people.  When a manager at a make-up store saw me standing against a column with my eyes closed,, waiting for my daughter and her friends, after a long day of walking and watching, she directed me to a chair where I could sit.  And she wouldn't let my protesting Midwestern humility get in the way as I tried to shrug off her offer.  "No, come with me, come and sit."So, I sat.  A moment of kindness in a big store, in a big city. And there were plenty of others, too.   

In such kindnesses do we see God. How often are we given opportunities to extend similar kindnesses!  Offering an arm to someone walking on an icy driveway or parking lot.  Holding the door for someone going into the market, the office, the school. Taking a moment to remember someone in prayer. 

While in New York, we spent a few minutes inside Trinity Church, Wall Street.  We also explored the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, with its magnificent Phoenix sculptures by the Chinese artist Xu Bing.  God was surely in those places, too, with the art, beauty, history, sacred objects in sacred space. And while I treasure what I saw there, I also treasure the kindnesses of the New Yorkers we encountered. Perhaps during this Lenten season, one of the Lenten disciplines we can commit ourselves to is to both notice and practice kindness. Our actions don't need to be big and grandiose, for sometimes it is those smallest acts of kindness that leave a lasting impression.  Like the kindness of strangers in an unexpected place.