The word “kind” as an adjective means affectionate, loving, gentle or agreeable, and derives from the terms “kin” and “kind” as nouns. To be kind goes naturally with being family, with being related, with being kin or of a kind. Families survive by caring and by kindness.
Kinship leads to kindness—or ought to. One can expect kindness to take on fuller expression as we live out our true sense of family more fully, when we genuinely begin to live out the blessing of our shared flesh with all of its implications.
As we grow in our understanding that, as today’s science is reminding us, we are all kin with the rest of creation, will we grow in kindness and generosity?
The recent dramatic story of four indigenous Columbian children, the oldest 13 and the youngest just one year old, who survived a plane crash and then 40 days in the jungle, is a story we can all celebrate. We are eager to hear the story of caring that the oldest daughter extended to her youngest siblings, that allowed them all to survive an ordeal in a dangerous setting like a jungle.* Our empathy is aroused because in one way we are all kin.
They were not alone, since lessons her tribe taught all of them, surely accompanied them in their survival. And the rescuers who kept up the search for so long and so diligently, are part of the cause for celebration. Kindness and generosity all around paid off with a happy ending.
Jesus advised testing spirits this way, “by their fruits you will know them.” The fruits of healthy spirituality are the peace and joy derived from authentic kinship and kindness, generosity and genuineness.
Truth is related to genuineness and genuineness derives from the same root as “generous” and “genus.”
Part of generosity is sacrifice. This word has been badly abused during the patriarchal period when “sacrifice” often meant, “You sacrifice for me.” But it is a word worth redeeming. Etymologically, “sacrifice” means “to make holy.” Why throw out a word like that?
All lovers sacrifice, be they parents sacrificing for their children or children for their aging parents, or spouses for each other, or artists and other workers sacrificing time and convenience for their work that brings joy and relief to others. Sacrifice is a kind of giveaway. It too is generosity in action and holiness in action.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp, 382-384.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE
Banner Image: Meeting Amma the Hugging Saint. Photo by paris28. Flickr Creative Commons.
Queries for Contemplation
What feelings are awakened in you by hearing of the survival and rescue of these four children? How do you see kindness, kinship, generosity and sacrifice at work in that story?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God