Some of you know now, that my sister-in-law passed away last week. She was a very quiet woman, and also someone who had a profound sensitivity to others. We will miss her kindness and that twinkle in her eye that let you know she knew exactly what was going on, whether or not she chose to address it verbally.

Now my brother, whose wife just died, lies in the hospital with a nitro-glycerin pack on his chest for his heart. As I hold space for him, my niece and nephew and my recently deceased sister-in-law, the pain they are going through touches me deeply.

I’ve been so blessed that the people around me are offering their understanding and their prayers. Every request I have made for support so that I can withdraw some from my business life in order to be more present with my family has been honored with kindness.

Today I was reflecting on how blessed I am to be surrounded by so much kindness. It became a reminder to me when I am feeling impatient with someone that cuts me off in traffic, seems despondent or inattentive when waiting on me at a restaurant, or doesn’t seem to be responding to my e-mails, that I have no clue what might be happening in their lives.

Is it possible someone is cutting me off because they are trying to get to the hospital before their loved one dies? Perhaps the wait-person has just gotten a divorce and is trying to keep the pieces of their life together? Is someone not responding to an
e-mail as quickly as I like because they are responding to a serious situation at home, or a lack of help or time at work due to illness, or they may just be very busy?

Do I account for technical problems and delays? Do I allow space for the emergencies of others? How often am I quick to judge or assume that others are being disrespectful, uncaring or selfish, when perhaps they are simply doing their best to cope with their own challenging situations?

I ask myself, “Could I find a little more kindness in my heart when others are not responding to me the way I would like them to?”

Aren’t these moments the ones when I have the opportunity to put my Spiritual beliefs into meaningful practice? Am I willing to consistently choose to respond in kindness? Am I willing to let go of negative assumptions about the motivation of others and recognize them as individuals doing their best?

Today, as I give thanks for the kindness of others, I am reminded to practice the same depth of kindness I am receiving—not only with people I know—but with strangers too. They are after all, members of my spiritual family that I have not met yet. In times of our greatest need, it is the kindness of our loved ones—our spiritual family—that helps us get through.

Good news! My brother was released almost immediately. His heart is still hurting, but physically he is fine now.

More thoughts from Reverend Misa: When Your Heart Hurts Too Much to Open