Questions We Should Ask

Where does the kindness we show others begin?

Dixil Rodríguez

Heaven has an abundance of grace. The Holy Spirit knows how much grace I need today. With that grace, how will I help others today? Daily “routines” are often too noisy and busy to notice how we can help others in need. How does the Holy Spirit nudge us to share grace and kindness toward others?

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My neighbor across the street always warns her four children: “I’m about to drive off! If you’re not in the car, you won’t get to school!” I find it amusing, considering the reason she is “driving off” at 6:30 a.m. is only to drive her children to school.

Then there is the daily greeting by my colleague at work: “Can you believe we’re still here?” I used to wonder whether he was discussing the fact we had shown up to work at all, or that we chose to show up at work again. These two early (and predictable) comments make my morning feel comfortably “routine” and predictable. Routines change.

Where does the kindness we show others begin?

On Monday morning I pack books and laptop into the car. Stella, my retired English teacher neighbor, waves from her porch swing. As if on cue I hear the warning: “I’m about to drive off . . .” I smile.

Today, above the noise, a child’s voice: “Do we get lunch today?” I cannot hear the answer. They drive away. I walk toward Stella who has also heard the exchange. “It’s difficult,” she says. “Money must be tight. Her husband is deployed abroad. She can’t find a job, and probably can’t afford the lunch program at school.”

The drive to work is riddled with questions: Why are children not receiving lunch at school? Hasn’t that program been in place for decades? What’s happening? The ripple effect of “my routine has been altered” begins. At work my colleague walks by: “Can you believe we’re still here?” Actually, if it were not for God’s grace, I doubt it.

Aware that he has young children who attend the local public school, I ask about the lunch programs. Details are complex: availability and affordability. Free lunches traded for affordable lunches. There is a cost—even in neighborhoods where free breakfast is offered, lunch is sold. A child will incur a debt or simply not have a school lunch.

Recently community churches joined to pay children’s “late” and “future” lunch fees. “It’s about the county you live in,” says my colleague, offering resources.* Yet resources keep me awake with concern: How does my church’s school fund its lunch program?

Later I share the information with Stella, estimate the number of children in our neighborhood, and prepare a proposal for funding to our homeowner’s association. Our homes and children reside within the same county lines. Where does the kindness we show others begin? For Stella and me, it begins with our neighbor, today.

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What is the level of detail we engage in, observing, listening to people around us—strangers, familiars—and participating in their lives? I challenge you to think on this task. Often the concern with our own human condition blinds us and makes us unable to see divine grace, the need for grace extended to others. Where does the kindness we show others begin in you today?


Dixil Rodríguez is a university professor and hospital chaplain. She lives in Texas.