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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Kindness by David Roper


“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.”  —C.S. Lewis. The Magician’s Nephew

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips;
Let not my heart speak severely.
[1] —Psalm 141:3

When I was a child I was an ardent reader of L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz books. I’d not seen a copy for decades until this week when I came across a Gutenberg e-book facsimile of Baum’s Rinkitink in Oz with all the original artwork (

Imagine my delight!

I laughed again at the antics of Baum's portly, ebullient, irrepressible, good–hearted King Rinkitink, of the Kingdom of Rinkitink and was reminded of his down–to–earth goodness. 

Young Prince Inga describes him best. When Bilbil the goat excoriates Rinkitink as an incompetent fool, Inga replies, “But his heart is kind and gentle and that is far better than being wise."

How simple and how sensible! Yet, who of us has not jarred the heart of someone dear to us by a harsh word, a sarcastic remark, an impatient gesture, a displeased look, a disapproving frown. In subtle ways we register displeasure, disturb the peace and quiet of the hour, and undo much of the good we have done that day. "A small unkindness,” says Hanna More, “is a great offense.”

Grief is great. We must be good to one another, “by soft endearments in common strife / lightening the load of life” (John Keble). In a world in which love has grown cold, kindness—a kindness that comes from the heart of God—is one of the most helpful and healing things we can offer to others. 

And here’s the good news: Anyone can become kind. We may be incapable of preaching corking good sermons, fielding hard questions, or evangelizing vast numbers, but we can, in time, become kind.

How? As King David did: Through prayer, the only way to soften our “rubbled–over hearts”—Karl Rahner’s apt expression—the source from which severity and all other sins flow. Hard words flow from hard thoughts. Indeed, Lord, “Let not my heart speak severely.” 

David Roper         5/24/15

[1] The sense of the Hebrew text (Brown, Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon).

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