a kiss of kindness
Peggy’s tumors weren't responding to her treatments. Despite every effort to halt her cancer and urge it toward remission, it grew and spread throughout her body.
She fought hard and tried to keep up a normal schedule. At her request, I met with Peggy and some of her friends for a summer study of the book of Romans. That first morning, she surprised us all with a hefty brunch: shrimp salad, fruit salad, taquitos, and cookies.
"Peggy," I protested, "the whole idea of meeting here is so you can rest."
"But I want to bless you," she argued back.
The following week, the rest of us brought lunch. That didn't stop Peggy from contributing. She'd been up early to bake for us.
Peggy continued to host the study till mid-summer, when it became clear she didn't have the strength to ready herself for company any more. With reluctance, she asked that we discontinue.
Friends from church rallied around her. Some came on a weekly basis to weed her garden or do laundry. Others brought meals. Still others came just to sit with Peggy and pray.
One of our young girls, Elaina, showed up at Peggy’s door on a sunny morning and asked if she could help with some housework. Peggy paused before saying yes. Elaina was only twenty. Peggy thought about all the things she should be doing instead: running around with her friends, hanging out at the beach, shopping at the mall. Why would this young girl choose to spend such a beautiful day indoors, cleaning house?
She lowered herself into an easy chair and visited while Elaina vacuumed the living room, dusted the shelves and knickknacks and watered the plants. She watched while Elaina fluffed the pillows on the couch and straightened the magazines on the end table. When she asked Peggy for window cleaner and a clean rag, Peggy stopped her.
“Oh, Elaina … you don’t have to do that. You’ve done enough already, honey. I don’t want you spending your day washing my windows.”
Elaina’s eyes filled with tears and her chin trembled. “Please let me, Peggy,” she said. “I don’t know any other way to tell you that I love you.”
Peggy stayed earth-bound for another fifteen months before slipping away to her new life. I saw her just hours before she left, and though she wasn't conscious at the time, I believe she heard our prayers, and that her heart responded with anticipation when we reminded her of Who she was about to see.
Often, while missing Peggy and remembering her last months, I've thought about Elaina's gift and the truth she walked out that day. Genuine love will always find a way to shows itself. An act of service is one heart telling another, “You matter to me.” It’s appreciation bubbling up into action. It’s a kiss of kindness.
Life can be very fleeting. Many things draw our attention and demand our time, but we’ll never regret setting those unimportant things aside long enough to tell another person, “I value you. I appreciate you. I love you.” Don’t let this week pass by without giving a kiss of kindness or two.
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” --John 13:14-15 (NKJV)