Life columnist

Linda Braden Albert worked as a feature writer and editor at The Daily Times. She is now the editor of Horizon Magazine and a columnist.

I have always liked this quote, attributed to William Penn (1644-1718), an early Quaker, founder of what would become the state of Pennsylvania and an early champion of democracy and religious freedom: “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness or abilities that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

When I discovered that I have Quaker ancestors — those belonging to the Religious Society of Friends — in my direct lineage, William Penn became more than a mere historical figure we studied in eighth grade American history class. My ancestors of the late 1600s may have crossed paths with him, and that makes Penn much more personal. It also gives his quote a bit more emphasis, especially since it mirrors my own thoughts.

In this day and age, we need more kindness. The pandemic has knocked us all for a loop in so many ways, and many of us are struggling to regain our footing and defeat the fear that permeates all facets of life. How can we help each other through this? By using our God-given talents, our words of encouragement and our actions to raise each other up to a higher rung of the ladder — or to keep us hanging on while we gather strength for the next upward push.

It’s easy to find something uplifting to say or do. Here are a few suggestions that are simple and safe:

Send a text or an email to friends and family you haven’t been in contact with for awhile.

Snail mail a card to let them know they are on your mind. Even better, write a short (or a long) letter.

If you find that a neighbor is having difficulties financially, take them a bag of groceries and leave them on the porch.

Pick a bouquet of these beautiful spring flowers and give them to someone to cheer them up. You can leave these on the porch, too.

If you are on social media, weed out the negative, soul-sucking, fault-finders. You don’t owe them an explanation. In my opinion, this is a form of bullying, made even easier with the anonymity of a keyboard. Where they spread their joy-stealing, cover it over with the seeds of kindness and hope. Refrain from arguments and insults. These people need kindness, too.

Smile at people. Even with a mask on, your eyes will smile at them.

When you are served, praise the server. Watch their eyes light up when they get a compliment instead of a complaint.

Be kind to yourself. Pick the bouquet for your own table, fix a treat for yourself, indulge in what makes you feel pampered and loved and content, focus on your own good points. The Bible tells us in Mark 12:29-31, Contemporary English Version, when Jesus is asked what is the most important commandment: “‘People of Israel, you have only one Lord and God. You must love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.’ The second most important commandment says: ‘Love others as much as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is more important than these.” If we don’t have love for ourselves within ourselves, how can we love God or others?

My mother has been in glory since 1994, but I remember the words she always spoke when my siblings and I would ask her what she’d like for a Mother’s Day gift. “A kind word,” she’d say, quoting an elderly neighbor from many years before. “I just want a kind word.”

Proverbs 25:11 (New King James Version) says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

Plant those seeds of kindness now. You’ll reap far more than you sow.

Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at Lin

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