By Maria Cory
"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. The mountains are calling and I must go." -John Muir
And, indeed, the Shaws did go!
Fulfilling a lifetime dream, Dennis and Carol Shaw embarked on a six-week, 8000-mile, summer vacation to see Yosemite National Park, including enjoying other points of splendor and intrigue while driving across the United States. This traveling twosome's account at Sunday Morning Forum was far more than just a few "Kodak moments."
"The trip was breathtaking," expressed Carol. But lasting impressions were made by more than mountains and valleys, crests and canyons, waterfalls and desert. Nature's Majesty was only a portion of Creation's Beauty experienced by these explorers along the way.
Ahhh, yes…Creation's child named "Kindness" touched the lives of the Shaws. "We were blessed by kindnesses from people we did not know," said Dennis gratefully. These personal, random (though intentional) acts of kindness, without expectation of reciprocity or compensation, were not ones of altruistic heroism or charitable magnitude. Yet, they were as palpable in reach and spirit as Yosemite's magnificence!
Dennis further related: "There is a link to gratitude when kindness is received. Studies show that those 'consciously focusing on gratitude experienced a reduction in negativity, increased optimism and tendencies to offer emotional support, enhanced sleep quality and a greater sense of well-being'" (Warren D. TenHouten's "Emotion and Reason: Mind, Brain, and the Social Domains of Work and Love").
At the facilitators' invitation, classmates shared about their experiences with the selfless, caring acts of others and the importance of nurturing face to face interaction in a world of rapidly advancing technology. "One good turn deserves another," and Kindness begets kindness," were added affirmations visually depicted (in deed but no dialogue) via the class closing video.
Yosemite may be calling, but perhaps there is no need to shout "It" from the mountaintop. Rather, the Shaws shared the Dalai Lama's simple map for our journey: "My religion is very simple. My religion is Kindness."
May we be ripples of Kindness in Creation as we ride the Wave of Wonder, Love, Service and Generosity in a Universe so yearning for this Goodness!
May it be so.