Thursday, July 22, 2010
Allie Pleiter on Kindness
One little act of kindness can trigger a flood of grace.
In our many trips to Comer Children’s Hospital, we’ve encountered hundreds of small acts of kindness. A warm blanket here, a door held there, someone who remarks my son’s straw fedora is “cool” rather than just a way to cover up his bald head. A children’s hospital is a monument of kindness--one you never recognize until you’ve been there.
Still, most of us witness small kindnesses every day without realizing how much they add up to the grace of life. My new novel, MISSION OF HOPE, was born of an act of courage as much as of kindness: the declaration of San Francisco’s postmaster that he would deliver mail after the 1906 fires and earthquake. Any kind of mail (for paper was scarce and messages were written on tiles, book pages, shirt collars, cloth, etc) and regardless of whether postage had been affixed. It was a small choice, but a monumental choice. Postmaster Arthur Fisk realized how vital messages were in those dire times, and made a single choice that influenced the lives of thousands. I don’t use his real name or character in the book, but Nora Longstreet’s fictional postmaster father makes the same choice and starts a chain of events that changes many lives forever. Quinn Freeman--whom we met as a boy in MASKED BY MOONLIGHT but has now grown to be a man of firm faith and daring resourcefulness--wields his own brand of kindness to fight the devastation all around him. Quinn knows what we all should remember: kindness always breeds hope, and hope is often the strongest weapon we have against any threat.
Mail is ordinary stuff. But kindness is often born of ordinary stuff, if we’d just take the time to look. Where can you do a small act of kindness today? When has someone done a small kindness to you that wasn’t really small at all? For really, kindness is never small--it’s almost always the start of something much bigger.