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.


  1. Allie, what a beautiful post! And a beautiful story! Your book sounds amazing.

    One act of kindness I've always remembered happened many years ago. We had a family we were friends with, and the husband lost his job. I knew money was tight, yet they invited us over for dinner. It sounds crazy, but that act of generosity really touched me. I still remember it today!

  2. I'd never heard that story. I think that's one of the great plusses of historical fiction is you can write a father one day and a grown up son the next. You've made me want to read this.

  3. I'd never heard that story either. How touching. I love that bumper sticker that says practice random acts of kindness. How true. Plus it always brightens my day when I'm the recipient or the giver. Great post.

  4. Allie, your family has been in my prayers.

    I have your book on my to buy list and even more glad than usual hearing the inspiration. Think I need to go to eharlequin and order it...just can't wait.

    I know what you mean about small things, especially when dealing with illness. Just having someone hold your hand, go find tissues, drive so you don't have to worry about having enough presence of mind not to wreck the car....

    Think I need to go to eharlequin and order it...just can't wait.

    Peace and prayers your way.

  5. The story of the post-earthquake was just a tiny footnote in one of my research books, but it grabbed at me and just wouldn't let go. I think those powerful details spark the best stories. I'm always on the lookout for them. And speaking of kindness, today at COSTCO as I was loading my car, another customer walked by and said, "I'll take your cart back for you." How nice! Made me smile the whole day.