I was sitting at my desk, clicking away on my computer. Floey came trotting up to me and sat down. “Hey, what are you doing, Mom?” she asked.
“Oh, hi, Floey. I just bought two new kindle books on Amazon.”
“You what???? You just organized 2,000 books on your bookcases throughout the house, and you just bought two more books?”
“Well, I bought digital books, Floey, so they won’t take up any physical space.”
“But, don’t you have enough to read already? I can’t believe you bought two more books. Does Mim know?”
“No. I haven’t told her yet. But let me tell you the titles of the two books I bought, and explain why I bought them.”
“Yeah. I think you had better explain.”
“Floey, do you remember what my special word is for this year?”
“Hmmm. I remember my word. It’s MEOW. I want to learn how to communicate better with the cats in the neighborhood this year. That’s why I chose MEOW for my special word. But I’m not doing very well with it. The cats seem to have gone into hiding. I don’t even see them any more to try to communicate with them. Hmmm. But I don’t remember your special word. What is it?”
Learning to communicate (Internet image)
“Well, Floey. That’s the problem. I didn’t remember it either. It’s supposed to be the word I’m concentrating on all year, and I simply forgot it. I remember my special word for 2015. That was GRATITUDE. I couldn’t forget that word because every single night before going to sleep I thought about everything that I was grateful for that day. Gratitude was always on my mind. And the year before, 2014, the first year I chose a special word, my word was JOY. That word was also on my mind all year as I kept on the lookout for moments of joy everywhere. But I actually forgot this year’s word! I couldn’t believe it. I had to look back on my blog to the first of the year and re-read the post about our special words to find it.”
“Wow! That’s terrible, Mom. I can’t believe you forgot your special word!”
“I know. Fortunately, I had my blog to go back to so I could find it. My word for this year is KINDNESS. Now why do you think I forgot that word?”
“I don’t know, Mom. It sounds like a good, inspiring word to me.”
“Well I’ve been thinking about this for a couple weeks – when I happened to think about our special words and realized I couldn’t remember my word. I think part of the reason I forgot it is that I never set up any ritual around the word that would prompt me to think about it this year, like I did with GRATITUDE as my word last year. So I decided maybe I should try to find a book about KINDNESS that would trigger my mind to start thinking about it.
Now that I’ve sorted through all 2,000 books that Mim and I own, I tried to remember if any of them were specifically about KINDNESS. You know, I couldn’t think of even one book that had KINDNESS as the major theme.”
“Really? That’s hard to believe, Mom. Are you sure?”
“I’m sure some of the books address kindness in passing, but none of our books have kindness as the main theme.”
Our built-in bookcase holds less than half our books.
Floey just shook her head slowly from side to side. “So is that why you went to Amazon?” she asked.
“Yes, Floey. I went to amazon.com and searched for books on kindness.”
“I bet hundreds of books popped up. Right?”
“Well there were a lot. The list started with lots of children’s books, but then it moved on to adult books.”
“How did you pick out the two books you chose?”
“Well first, I checked to see if any of my favorite authors had written any books about kindness. I thought maybe Debbie Macomber or Philip Yancey or Max Lucado might have written books on the subject, but no luck – at least no books that I could find. Then I started reading the book descriptions and reader reviews of the books on Amazon.” One of the books with the best reviews was THE POWER OF KINDNESS: THE UNEXPECTED BENEFITS OF LEADING A COMPASSIONATE LIFE by Piero Ferrucci. The author is an Italian psychotherapist. The Dalai Lama wrote the preface to the book, which I considered quite an endorsement. The Publishers Weekly review of the book said,
[Ferrucci] writes in a soothing, humane manner… Laced with stories from religion and philosophy, anecdotes from patients and personal experience, the book explores how Ferrucci’s ideas can be applied to everyday life. In “Forgiveness,” he describes how a Holocaust survivor was able to forgive those who murdered his family and explains that forgiveness is the only remedy for unspeakable suffering. In the section on service, he suggests small ways one can benefit the lives of others, such as telling a joke to lift a friend’s spirits or offering to make dinner for someone who needs time to rest. Ferrucci offers a fine reminder of how good, and how easy, it is to be kind.
“I don’t know about you, Floey, but I like to learn knew things – to explore new ideas – by listening to stories, not just theories and explanations. Real stories. Apparently, that’s how this book is written, which is one of the reasons I chose it.”
“Well, Mom. It sounds like this is the perfect book for you to read. So, why did you buy a second book?”
“Well, I have a secret, Floey. I don’t think I’ve ever told you this about myself. Here goes… I come from an Evangelical background. I grew up in a conservative little Methodist Church, and I even graduated from Wheaton College – the alma mater of Billy Graham. Graham was even my graduation speaker.”
“Wow, Mom! You mean you come from the Religious Right? Really?”
“Well, yes, Floey. That’s where my roots are. And, even though many Evangelicals would refuse to claim me as one of their own because I don’t agree with some of their values, I still think that many Evangelicals really love God and are honestly trying to live the kind of life God intends for all of us to live. For that reason, I keep reading some Evangelical authors. I can learn from them – even though sometimes I’m horrified by what I read. Usually that’s not the case. Usually they have thoughtful insights to share.”
“I get it. Your second book is by an Evangelical, right?”
“You’re right, Floey. The second book is LOVE KINDNESS: DISCOVER THE POWER OF A FORGOTTEN CHRISTIAN VIRTUE by Barry H. Corey. Here’s a paragraph from the description of the book on Amazon:
Dr. Barry Corey, president of Biola University, believes we tend to devalue the importance of kindness, opting instead for caustic expressions of certainty that push people away. We forget that the essence of what God requires of us is to “love kindness.” In this book, filled with stories from his travels around the globe, Barry shows us the forgotten way of kindness. It is a life that calls us to put ourselves at risk. A life that calls us to hope. A life of a firm center and soft edges. It is the life Christ invites us to follow, no matter what the cost.
“I can hardly wait to start reading these two books, Floey.”
“Well, I bet you won’t forget this year’s special word again.”
“Since you’re having a hard time with MEOW as your special word, do you want to adopt mine, Floey, and we’ll go on this journey into KINDNESS together?”
“Hey, that’s a great idea, Mom. Why don’t you start reading the first book to me this afternoon. I don’t think I’m ready to hear from the Evangelicals yet.”
“Oh, Floey. We’ll work on opening up your mind to finding goodness (and kindness!) everywhere. Trust me…”