I WAS about to enter the library when a young man tapped my arm, asking, ``Do you remember me? Though I looked him over carefully, I didn't. Still smiling, he continued, ``I used to be your neighbor. It turned out that he was "the new kid from Michigan who had lived next door almost ten years before.
He continued ``You had me in to lunch one day. Served fruit cocktail. It was the best fruit cocktail I ever ate! He paused a moment. ``I still think of it. And of you, too. He introduced his wife, said they'd been married three years and had two small boys.
After we parted, the conversation lingered in thought. He had been about twelve then, at odds with himself and his world. Now here he was, nearly ten years later, looking on top of things. He had a clear, level gaze. Both he and his wife were pleasant and gracious. But to remember fruit cocktail all that time! Then suddenly I knew it wasn't a dish of fruit cocktail he remembered. It was a dish of kindness.
Who can measure the reach of even the smallest kindness, especially to children? The Bible records an incident that Christ Jesus' disciples felt was an unwarranted intrusion on their busy Master. People brought young children to him. His disciples disapproved.
But Jesus was more sensitive to those bringing their little ones to him. They apparently appreciated what he taught and lived of God's great goodness and saw it as a priceless blessing for children. Rebuking the disciples, he said, ``Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. And, Mark's Gospel tells us, ``He took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. To Jesus' keen spiritual sense such a simple kindness wasn't trivial but
had its place in honoring the Father by loving His children.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, loved God and all humanity. She recognized that Jesus' spiritual sense derived from Spirit, God, and not from the human mind. Jesus' example shows us a wholly good God who made man wholly good. This expression of infinite good is Christ.
Because God, our Father, is infinite Love, He loves and endows us, His children, equally, boundlessly. Because He is Spirit, the man of His creating is spiritual. As Mrs. Eddy points out in her Miscellaneous Writings: ``Asserting a selfhood apart from God, is a denial of man's spiritual sonship; for it claims another father. And earlier on the same page she assures us: ``Man is God's image and likeness; whatever is possible to God, is possible to man as God's reflection.
That's quite the opposite of the picture the world gives us of man, isn't it? But this spiritual view is the reality. And it helps us to see why that lonely boy--now a fine young man--responded as he did. It was his receptivity to Christ--his own innate spiritual goodness--that caused him to come into my yard and want to help with a garden chore. How do I know? Because Christ always impels constructive action. And it was my receptivity to Christ that perceived the boy's need to be accepted, not turned aw ay--and to be invited to lunch too.
The taste of lovingkindness, the flavor of spiritual acceptance and appreciation, nourishes children. It encourages their natural kinship with good to flourish. Kindness never condones what is not good, but it does nurture everything that is! Every instance of kindness to children is a tender bonding between good and them. Kindness so nourishes children's inner security and individual worth, that challenges to their goodness--self-doubt, alienation, drugs, gangs, and other negatives--don't readily penetr ate. As the young man's experience showed, kindness to children is a powerful prayer for their welfare.