Sometimes you receive a message or a phone call or a whisper from the Universe when you need it the most. A friend gave me the following poem that impacted me enough to share it with you. Please read it.

Kindness By Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
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.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

I often ponder the notion of kindness because of  its effect on my ability to embrace compassion. It is our ability to empathize with others that builds our propensity to believe in kindess. I know this. But sometimes I slip and fall and forget another person’s backstory and jump to the wrong conclusion. That is precisely where kindness should enter.  I should dismiss what I perceive as a careless and selfish action to questioning whether I know the complete, full story of what motivates a person to behave in a certain way. The truth is that this approach can be dangerous because it might reveal something that you may not like about yourself.

I believe there is a strong truth in these words : “Before you know what kindess really is you must lose things. . .”  It is the losing that often reveals the strongest and the weakest parts of us. There are moments that I struggle to understand my motivations as well as those around me and instead of defaulting to be open to kindess, I judge. This part of my personality is the biggest roadblock to my goal of compassion. How often do we judge ourselves and others? Everyday. The next time I default to that place, I need to remember, “You must see how this could be you.”