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Be kind. It’s bumpy out there.

Evidently I had too much time on my hands while preparing to write about Random Acts of Kindness Day.

I got to thinking: isn’t any act of kindness random — by definition? Kindness — according to Jesus — flows outward to everyone. It’s not selective, not exclusionary and not judgmental. While we can plan random acts of kindness, they are not calculated or meted out with an eye to the other’s worthiness.

Well, enough. I get the concept behind the day. Surprise someone! Delight someone by doing the unexpected kindness! Widen my circle and acknowledge my oneness with a stranger, with someone completely unknown to me!

And, use the day to follow another teaching of Jesus: Let the one who has eyes to see, see and the one who has ears to hear listen. In other words, be attentive, notice all the kindnesses extended to me or to those around me — on any old, ordinary day.

Kindnesses occur so frequently here at St. Mary’s it’s hard to think of them as random and not as part of the energy of the place and the people here.

Sister Laurine Haley, left, and Sister Adelaide Ortegel enjoy the kindness of Sister Joanne Golding when she brings puppies and kittens to visit the Sisters of Providence living at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Sister Laurine Haley, left, and Sister Adelaide Ortegel enjoy the kindness of Sister Joanne Golding when she brings puppies and kittens to visit the Sisters of Providence living at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Feb. 19 is Random Acts of Kindness Day.

Last evening, as I walked home, one of our college students was ahead of me on the walk. She waited for me and wanted to talk about how the birds had just started singing at this time of evening and how happy that made her and eager for spring. I was delighted by her company and her enthusiasm.

Today, one of our CBO staff tracked me down — very cheerfully — because I had forgotten (for several days) to come to her office to sign a form. When I apologized for making her “track me down,” she laughed and said, “It’s fun to play detective now and then.” Her good humor allayed my embarrassment.

Kindnesses happen among those we love and with whom we spend time. My goddaughter’s 3 1/2-year-old son watched his mom put on her winter jacket, gloves and boots as she prepared to leave for work. “Be careful, Mama,” he cautioned. “Well, I will,” she replied. “What should I be careful of, Jax?” To which he replied — it seemed to me with concern and kindness — “It’s bumpy out there.”

So, I guess Jax has it right. A kind word, a kind act, a kind glance — planned, random, some of each — smoothes out the bumps, lightens the load. And I don’t even have to be on the giving or receiving end of that kindness. I can simply see and/or listen as it happens. Then praise Providence for the energy of God’s kindness living in us and among us.

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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