" Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. " Lao Tzu
Can any kindness really be called small by the person who receives it? Every word and every act of kindness I've ever had bestowed upon me, I've received with humility and an immeasurable amount of gratitude, no matter how seemingly small that act or word seemed to the giver, no matter how inconsequential to them, no matter their intention. And a small act can often be a timely reminder of our own occasionally ungenerous thoughts.
Yesterday, over lunch with my husband, I was bemoaning the fact that twice last week while shopping, the cashier didn't give me the 1 centesimo change from the bill of whatever and 99 cents. I hastily pointed out that it isn't the money, because after all what can you do with 1 cent - but the fact that neither cashier even acknowledged the fact. Until recently, a supermarket would give you a sweet if they didn't have a couple of cents change to give you - in these euro crisis times that no longer happens. Of course, I could have said something, but that would have made me look like Mrs Scrooge, because after all...etc. Still I fulminated, these were two big stores with branches all over Italy, it's not like they need my 1 cent, and just think, if they do that to 10 people a day, every day, in every store - that all adds up you know. My husband, a simple man, looked at me and said something noncommittal. After all, he's Italian, he would have just asked where his 1 cent was.
Today I popped into a supermarket - part of a local chain but a branch that I don't use very often. While my shopping was being totted up, I mentioned to the cashier that I might have left my loyalty card behind when I was last in, a month or so ago. She picked up a pile of cards, sorted through and found mine without problem. I was so thankful and when she presented the bill of €15.37, I scrabbled through my purse looking for the right money as I knew that, as usual, she wouldn't have much change, but I was short of 10 cents and had to give her a €20 note. Giving it back to me, she said she would take the change as she didn't have any and I could settle the 10 cents next time. And while I had been scrabbling, she had packed my shopping. Yes, it could be said that she was making things easy for herself too and it wasn't her money after all, but as I walked home, the kindness of the cashier made me reflect on all that I had said the day before, my judgement and my pettiness. Wasn't it really that I was angry with myself for not being able to say something at the time and so in turn felt taken advantage of and therefore seen as weak?
That 10 cents worth of kindness not only restored my faith in humanity but also forced me, in the light of my own Buddhist faith, to face and answer honestly some questions about my own intentions and actions. The Dalai Lama has famously said that his religion is kindness - and you know, I think kindness is a religion that all of us, of any faith and non at all, can practice every day.
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