For ten long grueling weeks, I have had to wear a hard cast on my lower leg. Unable to place any pressure on that leg put me in the unusual position of having to frequently rely on the kindness of others. It ain’t been easy.
For most of my life, I have been healthy. I have never been seriously ill, nor even stayed overnight in a hospital. I have been the one that offered assistance, sent the card, dropped off a meal, opened doors and in the worst of cases, offered condolences. That all changed a few years ago.
When I lost my late wife to cancer in 2011, I was not prepared for the emotional trauma that grief would visit upon me. Neither was I prepared for the kindness shown to me by others. Every card, every meal, and every hug received served to slowly strip me of my I-can-do-it-all attitude of self-reliance.
Lovingkindness has that effect.
Every such act served as a velvet-covered tool used by God to fashion me into a new and better version of myself. I discovered within my spirit a reservoir of tears and empathy that now possessed an “Easy Access” tab. The old cliche, “It is better to give than to receive,” is true on many levels. But maybe also because receiving is just so hard, especially for someone more used to being on the giving end of things. It was, and is, a constant reminder that we have needs we cannot ourselves meet.
It is an awkward, bumpy road to the land of humility.
Since my recent surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon, I have had to, once again, depend on the kindness of others. Ten weeks in a cast is not something I wish upon anyone. Seeing my new bride sacrifice her time and energy to feed me and help me get around kindled an unfathomable degree of gratitude. Using my “scooter” to support my cast-adorned leg and navigate a restaurant door was treacherous until a bearded tattooed biker dude rushed up to hold the door open for me. Maybe the most humbling experience was when a 70-year-old bagger at Publix had to help me get a few groceries in my car.
Then there is our neighborhood good Samaritan. As yet unidentified, this phantom of kindness appears out of nowhere two mornings each week and hauls our trash can back up our steep driveway. Since my scootering response time is currently measured in minutes, this benevolent stranger has been too quick to be caught in the act. I hope soon, however, that my gratitude shall outrun their covert charity and I’ll be able to thank them properly.
We hear so much of the meanness and vulgarity of our culture these days, it is easy to overlook the goodness of others, especially perfect strangers. Scripture challenges us to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness….” (Colossians 3:12 RSV) It took a few weeks in a cast to open my eyes and realize there are still a number of good folks in this world doing small random acts of kindness. They come in all sizes, all shapes, all ages, and all colors, but they share one thing in common — the same holy wardrobe — a kind heart.
This cast upon my foot and leg may have helped my tendon to heal, but, as I have learned these past ten weeks, the kindness of others has a healing property all its own. And for that, I am grateful.