To me, the ultimate image of human kindness is opening up the door on a dark, gale-force-wind stormy night to a neighbor with water and sleet streaming off his face and running down his clothes and the humble offer, “Want me to walk your dog for you?”
Rather than reflecting on the stress, hardship, and unpleasantness the covid-19 virus brought to 2020, I choose to reflect on the kindness. The first day a major lockdown was announced for Scotland in March, I set out on crutches as usual to walk our dog Savannah with whispered prayer along the way. The streets around our house were empty. No moving cars, no people. I felt like the last person alive on planet earth. There had been scant news about the virus—how it spread, where it lurked, and how to avoid it. Being the only person moving outside the walls of a house—I wondered if the virus was airborne and if I inhaled death at every step.
Given Alan’s age and physical condition—diabetes—I did our grocery shopping. Masks were not mandatory at the time, but folks lined up six feet apart outside the store and went in a few at a time to sanitize hands and then follow a one-way route through the store. Every sinus cough after a trip to the store brought a certain level of apprehension. Still, I had an anchor: the knowledge that God is in Control. No matter what. “Those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust. Surely He shall deliver…” Psalm 91:1.
Gradually, other dog walkers rejoined me along our street. The neighbor several houses away quit criticizing me (he has a yard, or garden, for their dogs—we have neither) for walking my dog more than twice a day, as per lockdown regulations for outdoor exercise. Neighbors whom I had never met in the two years since we moved to Dunoon sat outside in their small yards and we introduced ourselves and chatted. God was good. We had an unusual prolonged stretch of dry, fairly warm weather—perfect for making new friends across the top of rock fences.
Kindness prevailed. The small grocery store in our neighborhood stayed open when virtually all other small businesses closed. The owners delivered merchandise to the door for customers who were afraid to enter the store. Up and down the street, kind people delivered groceries, prescriptions, and other necessities to those who were sheltering or merely afraid. Some folks put up their Christmas lights again to usher in a bit of hope and cheer.
Finally, after a two-year wait—I had my knee replacement surgery. While I was in the hospital, kind neighbors and friends from church delivered meals to Alan. When I arrived back home, I was met with cards, chocolate, offers of help, and encouraging messages and prayer via Facebook. Neighbors came along to walk Savannah. A friend from church took me grocery shopping since I can’t scrunch up enough to fit into our small car since the surgery. District nurses came by to take out the staples, dress the wound, and get a course of antibiotics started when the incision became infected.
My overwhelming memory of 2020 is kindness. And why not? “Praise the LORD…for His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the LORD endures forever.” Psalm 117.
The epitome of kindness came to our door the day after Christmas: Paul coated with sleet and rain asking softly, “Want me to walk your dog for you?”
Kindness. May 2021 follow the example.