Just be kind.
Even when you don’t feel like it.
Even when the world hasn’t been kind to you.
Because maybe you’ll be on a plane one November night,
bound for Chicago,
and maybe it’ll be cold and rainy and dreary
and you’ll be sad and lonely and lost.
And maybe you’ll just want to curl up with a book
for the hour-long flight from Nashville,
trying to figure out your life’s Plan B.
Because your wounds are not yet even scars.
But be kind anyway.
Because you don’t know who will make his way down
that Southwest aisle and spot the empty seat next to you.
And maybe you’ll kick yourself for accidentally making eye contact
because then he’ll ask if the seat is taken.
And it’s not.
But be kind.
And put your book away.
Because even though he is friendly and boisterous,
he’s wounded too.
And maybe he’ll tell you about it.
About his twin daughters he just visited in Florida.
And about how a failed marriage is now an obstacle
to his dream of motivational speaking.
And be kind.
And in turn maybe you’ll tell him about your best friend,
a jazz pianist in Chicago
who plays a regular Saturday night gig at the Green Mill.
And maybe when he gives you his business card
you’ll toss it out when you get home
because contacting unfamiliar men isn’t your thing.
But be kind.
Because maybe down the road
your best friend
will call you to tell you a story.
A story about a guy
who introduced himself at the Green Mill
and told him he met you on a plane from Nashville.
And maybe your best friend will think that’s fun
but forgets about it for a few weeks.
But then maybe the guy will return to the Green Mill
and reintroduce himself to your best friend the jazz pianist
and hand him a letter addressed to you
and ask him to please see that you get it.
And then maybe your best friend
will read the letter to you over the phone.
And you’ll probably cringe
because you have no idea what to expect.
But you’ll listen.
your kindness and compassion and encouragement
–even on your own dark day–
inspired a stranger
on an airplane
emphatically, hauntingly, searingly,
that he just had to find you
and tell you
and thank you.
Because you were kind.
And maybe years later you will still read that letter.
Maybe daily even.
Because it reawakens you to
the significance of kindness,
the substance of compassion,
the scope of encouragement,
and how nothing, really, is about you anyway.
So just be kind.
There just may be grace in it for you too.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.