I’d read part of this book aloud last year, despite the moans and groans that the appearance of the book seemed to produce. I’d put it aside for awhile and a few weeks ago I started reading it aloud again from where we’d left off previously. This time the audience was more receptive; perhaps the subject matter was more practical.
Kindness, Generosity and Gratitude are the three chapters we’ve been reading through and we’ve had some good discussions about what they look like in our everyday lives.
But there is a curious principle in human nature, best described perhaps as vis inertiae, which makes even the benevolent, pitiful, and sympathetic person slow to do the little everyday things about which Kindness concerns himself. The office of Kindness is simply to make everyday life pleasant and comfortable to others…
The ‘vis inertiae’ idea was interesting, especially as one of the boys was reading about inertia in his science work. It basically means the ‘force of inactivity.’ I’d never really thought of inactivity as a force, but it does push against us and make us slow ‘to do,’ and requires some sort of physical response to overcome it.
Acts of Kindness are things we do to make life pleasant for others and they require action as opposed to Sympathy which is a feeling of the heart.
The nature of Generosity is to bring forth, to give, always at the cost of personal suffering or deprivation, little or great. There is no generosity in giving what we shall never miss and do not want.
We were talking about this one Friday about a week ago and that same night we had the pleasure of going to a Sons of Korah concert. This group of musicians has been setting the Psalms to music for the past twenty years and the lead singer shared his thoughts about true generosity having a cost associated with it. My eight year old leaned across to me, very excited, and whispered, ‘Mummy, that’s what we read this morning!’
The generous man escapes a thousand small perplexities, worries, and annoys; he walks serene in a large room. There are so many great things to care about that he has no mind and no time for the small frettings of life.
Man is not for himself, and to get out of ourselves and into the wide current of human life, of all sorts and conditions, is our wisdom and should be our care.
To make use of other people, to serve ourselves of them, is the sin of ingratitude. The grateful man has a good memory and a quick eye to see where those who have served need service in their turn.
A grateful heart makes a full return, because it rejoices not only in the gift but in the giver.
Gratitude spreads his feast of joy and thanksgiving for gifts that come to him without any special thought of him on the part of the giver, who indeed may himself have gone from the world hundreds of years ago. Thus he says his grace for a delightful or helpful book, for a great picture, for a glorious day, for the face of a little child, for happy work, for pleasant places.