These balloons are a wonderful mystery.
A while back (kind of a shocking while back! Keep reading. . .) people from the community at New Life Presbyterian Church did something very kind for me. They learned that it was the anniversary of my ordination, and they threw a shindig in celebration for me as a surprise. It was so sweet and meant a lot to me. These balloons were one of the gifts.
Are you ready for this?
They’re still floating! Six weeks later.
I took this photo yesterday. I’ve never had helium balloons last more than a couple of days. Perhaps I’m behind the times on helium balloon technology, and this is more of a normal occurrence these days? Who knows? But I keep marveling that they’re still up in the air, and I’m curious to learn just how long they will go.
They’ve become a bit of a symbol in the house: Kindness lasts.
When I’ve had a rough day, I’ve looked in their direction and remembered the kindness this community showed me. These balloons have also reminded me to find some creative ways to show kindness to others.
Above all, they’ve reminded me to pay attention and be present to what’s around me. When I’ve done that, other things have served as reminders of lasting kindness too.
Like the other day, when I was in the grocery store aisle, and I saw some Sleepytime Tea. I suddenly remembered when Michael Jinkins, at that time Dean of Austin Seminary, gave me some of that tea. He knew I was experiencing some challenging, prolonged insomnia and specifically thought to bring me some. It meant so much to me. I haven’t thought of that in a long while – that was 9 whole years ago when I was a seminary student – but it made a meaningful, lasting impression on me.
Or like the other day, when I looked down, and I saw my keys. Specifically, I saw my key to Canterbury House, the community where I spend time with students. About a year ago, Chaplain Reid Hamilton gave me a key to the space and was just flabbergasted that I hadn’t had one for months. I never opened or closed the space, so I didn’t know that it would be typical for me to have one.
Last night, I learned that he gives keys to every student community member too so that space can feel like a home away from home – a refuge where they can drop in, make a meal, play the piano, or have a place to study. Canterbury House is our collective house. I love that. That’s kindness.
Kindness lasts. And it reminds us we belong. When show it to each other, we never know how long that impression will last.