Collateral Kindness

On Friday our family was the recipient of an act of kindness that still has us talking. Some new friends who have quickly become dear to us were moving from one Chicago neighborhood to another. Neither of them drive so they asked if Maggie or I would be willing to drive their rental van. We wanted to say yes, but the tumult of adoption had us tired and hunkered down. After so much exposure to uncertainty our vulnerable selves were needing some quiet time at home, getting the feel of this family of four.

We really wanted to say yes, but instead I sent an email to a handful of friends from our church and explained the situation. Honestly, I wasn’t sure anyone would respond. After all, these were friends of ours not theirs, and we wouldn’t even be there. Did I mention the move was going to happen on a Friday evening? Despite my skepticism, within twelve hours three friends had volunteered to help. They were nonchalant about it. Of course we’ll help. Why wouldn’t we?

Providentially, on Friday evening we drove to a going-away party and discovered on the way that it was less than a mile from where our friends were moving. The moving van was arriving about the same time we got to the party, so we swung by our friend’s new apartment. Something about seeing those three friends from church so cheerfully helping this couple they’d never met really moved Maggie and me.

It was their kindness that got to us. I’m so used to people prioritizing their own stuff – I know the tendency in myself very well. But here were three friends who gladly set aside their Friday evening to drive a truck, carry some boxes, and fight rush hour traffic for people they may never see again. (Though I hope they will see each other again!)

I won’t attempt any big conclusions or parallels here. It was simply a refreshing experience and a reminder about how very important one’s decision to be kind can be to others, even to those who are not the immediate recipients of the kindness.

Author: David Swanson

Pastor of New Community Covenant Church in Bronzeville. Collecting signs of life.

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