The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my loving kindness shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
When I was in Kindergarten, I was hyperactive and hard to manage. The teacher had to send me home because I wouldn’t lay on the mat like all the other kids and take a nap. As soon as she turned her back I scooted away to play with the toys. She never made me feel badly about my behavior, but neither could she allow such disruption. Her name was Mrs. Beeman.
When I was in fifth grade (yes, I actually made it that far), I was still beset by my hyperactivity, which was manifested by speaking up out of turn and more or less being a class clown. But this time I was not in a public school, but in a private Catholic school where my parents paid to have them put up with me. The teacher tried to be strict, but often I could see that she was trying not to laugh. She helped me make it through that year. Her name was Sister Daniel Mary.
When I was a junior in High School, my hyperactivity had mellowed out to a degree, but the first two years of High School were rough. My adolescent emotions and hormones played havoc with me. In that junior year, I took physiology for my science course. As a result of some personal attention from that teacher I got an “A” for the first time on my HS transcript. His name was Mr. Weingartner.
Recently, I was in a meeting in which someone who had been absent for a year came to visit. Lots of people in the meeting expressed delight at seeing this person again. One person made this comment: “I remember you as someone who was kind to me.”
The reason I remember the name of my Kindergarten teacher, my fifth grade teacher, and my physiology teacher is because I remember them as people who were extraordinarily kind to me, especially when I was out of sorts, hurting, and lonely. The list of those kind people goes on, but I have no room here to write about them all.
In Christianity, we hear a lot about love, and how we should love God and everyone else. I struggle with that, because I don’t see that capacity within myself. I have enough trouble connecting with basic emotions, let alone that deep, unconditional, devoted love that some “super-Christians” talk about. But there is a word in Hebrew that works for me. It is HESED. It is the Hebrew word that is used to describe the nature of God’s love for people like me. It’s best translated “loving kindness.” I don’t know if I am ever going to be capable of great love, but I know I am capable of loving kindness.
I suspect that you also remember those special people who helped you along the way with loving kindness, even when you didn’t deserve it, or when you were unable to ask for help. Take a moment at the beginning of this week to send up a word of gratitude to God for sending those people into your life. And remember that along the way, someone will remember your name as well.
Rev. Dr. David Kaiser-Cross
Prayer Focus: “Angels”
God of compassion, thank you for those special “angels” that we remember for their loving-kindness. May you infuse us with that same kindness for the people you place in our lives. Amen.