On Kindness

24×24′ M/M, 2001

We’ve come to see the emotional porousness that kindness requires as a dangerous crack in the armor of the independent self, an exploitable outward vulnerability – too high a cost to pay for the warm inward balm of the benevolence for which we long in the deepest parts of ourselves.
– author unknown


Yesterday I spoke at a fundraiser for an organization close to my heart- COMING HOME CONNECTION.

They were there for me as I began to negotiate the challenges of a body unable to cut up vegetables, prepare a meal, clean a house, make a bed, etc.

As intelligent as we understand ourselves to be it remains impossible to know what to do when Life-as-we-know-it shatters and we must begin again. COMING HOME CONNECTION has the answers and I felt honored to speak on their behalf.

As I wheeled over to the location of the fundraising event (about a mile) I saw the entrance to the building atop a huge staircase.

The building sits on a very busy traffic corner and I sat there in my chair looking longingly up to the entry door. A wave of vulnerability washed over me as I imagined all the cars buzzing past me watching me in my conundrum.

I calmed myself and waited.

Within a few minutes three ever-so stylishly- dressed people approached on their way to the event.

I asked if they might find out if a handicapped entry existed.

They took off with such purpose on the mission that I was left sitting there on the street corner breathless in the wake of their eager kindness.

Suddenly, I felt safe and all vulnerability vaporized in this seemingly small moment of just being SEEN in my need.

This, I thought, is the salve for societal ills; the arrival of a “WE” consciousness when before there was just ME.

My new friends came back within minutes and guided me to the entrance allowing me access.

We entered and were taken through the industrial kitchen as folks moved chairs out of our path and smiled the genuine smile of those eager to serve in some way.

Independence is our societal drug of choice. Not to need is looked at as the apex of our shared American existence; Capable at all costs..Survival of the fittest…

I am witnessing something very different; the shift away from my cherished and dependable independence toward the fertile ground of interdependence.

This new garden I live in grows not pride but Grace and Gratitude..

I am so much more because of it.


5 Responses to “On Kindness”

  1. Alexandra Eldridge on July 20th, 2015

    is there a recording of your talk? It must have been wonderful!

  2. Pam on July 20th, 2015


  3. Carrie on July 20th, 2015

    Or maybe YouTube ? Would love to read, hear and or see it

  4. Barry on July 22nd, 2015

    Well said. Your recognition and interpretation of that moment/challenge is a gift to yourself, those who assisted you, and us your readers. I spoke yesterday to the Occupational Therapy class at Cincinnati State U. In my speaking I mentioned my willingness to ask for help, and that in my MANY years of doing so, I have never once been refused, had eyes rolled, or received anything but enthusiastic, gracious assistance! It creates quality relationship if only for a moment, and in the long run, if you’re awake in recognition as you were, it modifies your essence. You become a being that is bigger, more inviting and enriching to others, and yourself for that matter.

  5. laura Hegfield on July 29th, 2015

    So beautiful Cathy. I was away on retreat last week and found that everyone was beyond kind, helping me when I needed it, allowing me the space and grace to navigate on my own when I was able. Our hearts grow and nourish each other through kind acts and accepting assistance, indeed we are interdependent.

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