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STORIES OF KINDNESS & GRACE

CALL TO ACTION
 
A Story of Grace and Kindness offered by Cathy Campbell – April 25, 2020
 
 
Every day for 28 days I've been visited by grace and kindness. This is an account of care, courage, and faithfulness in the very stuff of life – soap, warm water and endless face cloths, humour, skill and understanding. For each of these 28 days, home care aides came to my home and provided hands-on, care-filled attention to my mother. My day was punctuated by their visits. My mother and I would wait together to greet the morning, awaken from a cherished afternoon nap and close the day with their help. I haven't seen their faces [PPE and all]; I don't know their last names; but I know each of them: Stephanie, Eva, Rosa, Kristine, Melinda and Catherine; Ophelia and Juliet. Stephanie welcomed my mother into her last day and Melinda and I prepared her for her last sleep. Each of these women cared in their own unique ways. Each dared the intimacy of care in a time of social distancing. Without the faithfulness of each of these women, each day, I could not have shared these last 28 days with my mother, nor held her hand as she did the hard work of dying. And yes, behind this amazing network of care, there are another group of people who schedule, train and support, who provide beds, lifts, diapers and bandages, who answer the phone, listen through my tears and fears, and patiently address endless questions. Yes, there were nurses, an amazing ER doctor at the Grace, even a whole group of firefighters and paramedics at one point, who made this journey possible. But the home care aides were amazing! I have so much to give thanks for including the support of my husband and the unconditional love and wordless caring of our dog and cat, but without each of these home care aides none of this sacred journey would have been possible.  I stand in awe and gratitude. You are a blessing. Thank you.
 
A Grace Moment
 
          offered by the Rev'd Norman Collier

 
The light of Christ.  Thanks be to God.
 
          The darkness is the darkest I’ve ever experienced.  We had trekked about 30 minutes into Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota, every winding step taking us deeper under ground, deeper into the darkness.  The path was narrow at times, rugged, difficult.  Each of us had lanterns to light the way, but at the end, the guide suggested we all turn them off in order to experience the darkness.  For about 40 seconds, it was pitch black.  It felt oppressive and claustrophobic.  It’s the kind of thing that could play with your mind.  And then the guide turned his light on.  One light.  But it was brilliant and overwhelming and liberating.  With relief, we were brought back to life.
 
The light of Christ.  Thanks be to God.
 
Alcohol had wasted his soul and wounded his family.  At a young age, it looked like he might have a career in hockey, and had moved to Montreal to play for a minor league team.  That’s when it began.  The hook, the slide, the oblivion.  The disease of alcoholism was spreading throughout his being, and though he felt at times sharp and powerful, his life was becoming dull and dark.  These were, indeed, his darkest days.  But in his darkness, he cried out to God.  And so began – gradually - a different life, of A.A. meetings, of honesty and accountability, of study and steps, of relying on a higher power.  It was like he had been brought back to life.
 
The light of Christ.  Thanks be to God.
 
At the Easter Vigil in my first parish, we gathered in the church basement to hear the story of our salvation by candlelight.  We stood up to move upstairs, into the church, led by the light of the Paschal Candle.  I sang, The light of Christ.  Everyone responded, Thanks be to God.  Everyone.  Jack and Brian, who had never seen eye to eye.  Maureen and her daughter who hadn’t seen each other in years.  Sylvia and Mabel and Wilf who all lived alone.  Hilda who had just come out of hospital.  Arrogant Beth and humble Alice.  Evan and his brother who couldn’t sit still.  We were together as one, and it felt like we were all coming back to life.  It felt like resurrection.  It felt like Easter.
 
The light of Christ.  Thanks be to God.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A Grace Moment
 
offered by the Rev'd Norman Collier

 
Sometimes we are given the grace to see beyond what we can see.  Sometimes we are given the grace to see deeper  
Like my experience with John.  John, a youth in custody, wants to go to church.  
A request like this in jail involves many layers of management, pages of applications, endless faxes to outside agencies, and a long list of rules and conditions.  But the approval comes, and John can go to church on Thanksgiving weekend.
He’s not sure what church to attend, so we pick the closest one we can find.  He will have to walk there on his own, and he will only be allowed 2 hours away from the institution.  His taste of freedom will be quick, but it will be enough.
As I walk along the street toward the church, I can see him ahead of me.  He walks like any teenager who happens to be in a gang – full of indifference and swagger and ownership and attitude.  But then, suddenly, unexpectedly, unaware of my presence and lost in the freedom of solitude, he begins to skip like a little boy.  He can see himself reflected in the store windows along the street.  He stops to look at himself, and then continues skipping down the avenue.
It is a moment of grace on this Thanksgiving weekend.  For a brief moment, he is himself.  It is the goal of all our work.  It is a gift.  It is worship.


Kindness Matters offered by the Rev'd Norman Collier

“You gave your compliments to the chef for a cup of coffee?   Seriously?  A cup of coffee?”

The disbelief dripped with the sarcasm.  Four of us had stopped at a small town diner for a break, and all of us enjoyed a cup of coffee.  When it was time to leave, my friend got up and went to the kitchen doorway, and yelled above the din.  Thanks for the coffee, he said.  It was great.  My compliments to the chef!
The three of us laughed about this for days afterwards.  Imagine anyone being called a chef in a small town diner.  Imagine anyone being eccentric enough to thank the chef for coffee.  Imagine anyone being so dramatic about something so insignificant.
Thirty years later, I still remember that incident.  Every now and then, the memory pops into my head, triggered by some unbidden truth.  Because thirty years later, I now know I got it all wrong.
There is nothing insignificant about a cup of coffee.  There is nothing insignificant about a small town diner.  There is nothing insignificant about a satisfying break in a long journey.
There is nothing eccentric about saying thank you.  There is nothing eccentric about acknowledging someone’s work.  There is nothing eccentric about appreciating another human being.
Three of us were young and thoughtless that day.  We saw our friend’s “thank you” as a joke, an extravagance, a foolish gesture.  But God saw it differently, I now know.  God saw our friend’s thank you as an act of kindness.  And in every act of kindness God’s dream for the world bursts forth.  A dream of connection, a dream of love, a dream of valuing what we so often ignore.
Kindness is never foolish.  It is never a luxury.  Kindness is always our way of embracing God’s dream.








 
  
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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