A Garden of Kindness

I ONCE knew someone whose life was like a garden of kindness. Kindness wasn't something he elevated himself to on rare occasions--it was the way he lived. He never needed to stretch for this virtue; it was simply part of him. His thoughts of others and of himself overflowed with this wonderful quality, and his actions matched his thoughts. And in addition to kindness, he expressed an inner joy that you knew wasn't dependent on external circumstances. It came naturally from that deep well of his heart.

How could someone possibly be like this? Is there even time for kindness in this day and age? Or is it, like mercy, fast becoming an outmoded virtue?

Of course, kindness, like mercy, will never be outmoded, simply because of the nature of God. Kindness has its basis in love. And God, since He is divine Love itself, is the source of love. Being loving is actually another way of understanding God and is, in fact, completely natural for man, God's creation. Kindness is one of the many qualities that flow from divine Love.

Isn't Christ Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan an example of this? He tells of a traveler who was beaten and robbed by thieves. Two of this man's countrymen--religious men --see him and pass him by. But a Samaritan sees him and stops to help. Jesus' words convey the immediacy of the love the Samaritan felt: ``When he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him."

Perhaps Jesus' main point is that love for one's neighbor must be universal because God Himself is the one universal God. God's love, active in our hearts, results in a kindness that is immediate and flowing, not pinched or measured.

It can be easy to believe that kindness is merely a positive human quality and not directly related to God. But because man's true being is the spiritual reflection of God, man's very existence and identity have their source in God, and likewise every attribute or quality or characteristic of man. This includes all that we associate with love--affection, charity, compassion, kindness. Christ Jesus illustrated this spiritual fact so fully. Referring to him, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science,

Mary Baker Eddy, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Through the magnitude of his human life, he demonstrated the divine Life. Out of the amplitude of his pure affection, he defined Love."

The fact that each one of us is in truth the spiritual man of God's creating means that the same love Jesus felt resides within us, too. Jesus, of course, was unequaled in his expression of Christly love. But the more we learn of our relationship to God, the more freely we will express divine Love. Kindness increasingly will become a natural way of thinking for us, finding expression in the way we treat family, friends, work associates, and public figures we hear about in the news.

And what's the reward for kindness? It may not be the loving response of others. But because we have accepted God's love and expressed it, we will feel the spiritual joy that can't be separated from such activity. ``Human affection is not poured forth vainly, even though it meet no return," writes Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health. ``Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it."

When we realize that kindness is natural for us, it will flow more freely. And we may well be surprised at the brightness it puts in our own lives.

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