I'm trying to gather my thoughts on Summer. Summer was complicated. Let me tell you about this week.
I have extraordinarily kind people in my life. Their generosity is not a lens through which they run their decisions, but something that is built into all the decisions that they make. It is no surprise, then, that people show up for us and our community in generous and kind ways. This world is a terrible place. I can hardly breathe to think of what is happening oceans away. I can hardly breathe thinking of the fear and heartache so many people wrap themselves up in. But equally extraordinary is the palpable urgency that people are placing on kindness right now– the way in which they are throwing it into the air with abandon, willing their dollars, their time, and their energy to something greater.
Do you feel it? Maybe there is a better word. I put out a call this week for gift cards to send home with our school families who regularly receive weekend food support through our building. A friend from across town called right away, "I feel sort of helpless in this season… here is how I can meet an immediate need". Someone needs shoe sizes 1 and 2? I'll stop by the store on the way home. Coats, you say? Let me look in our closet. Aleppo? Let us give and give until it hurts. I am often guilty of counting the cost of my own kindness. This comes from a few places: being hurt, feeling scammed, feeling like I do not have enough, wondering what makes a difference. I try to calculate maximum effectiveness. Growing up, we spoke in the language of "stewardship", or the careful managing of resources both in saving and giving. Poor stewardship paved the road to hell. Our wealth was not of this world, but squandering any of that cold, hard cash came with it's own ramifications. That spirit lives on. I'm breaking myself of it.
My parents taught me to give with an open hand. They loaned money to friends and sometimes relative strangers, hoping but never counting on being repaid. I do not think this is the way that they were raised, but something that grew in them over time. They taught us to give sacrificially. One such "sacrifice" came when my dad marched into our room and dug through the box of chocolates we had been given by our family friends at Christmas. He poured out the top layers into a Tupperware bowl as we protested. He was heading to the juvenile detention center to play floor hockey with the bs there, and wanted to bring them a treat. We yelled. He did not relent.
It was a small thing. It was not a small thing.
I was (again) explaining Intent versus Impact to a car full of my children this week. We are trying to ground them in the fact that Intent doesn't really matter that much, only Impact. I cried when I got home.
I am wound tight with intent. What is my Impact?
I have done no baking and we opted for a garland over a tree (so help me if another body-sized thing sets up in this house and then sheds all over the damn place). We are beginning to feel the grief of the holiday-away-from-family from our children. Unfortunately, the language of their grief looks like rage and frustration. We hope our windows survive. We are being shown kindness at every turn.