Kindness and Generosity, Lost Children Found in a Jungle & more

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.  

France 24 reports on jungle rescue of Colombian children. Video by FRANCE 24 English.

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.

Orange tree in California. Photo by Tomwsulcer. Wikimedia Commons.

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.”

A father with his middle son and last born, at the last born’s graduation from high school. Photo by Warren Wayne Thomas !Haoseb2. Wikimedia Commons.

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?

Recommended Reading

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

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10 thoughts on “Kindness and Generosity, Lost Children Found in a Jungle & more”

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    What I see in this incredible story is the possibility of miracles manifesting when humanity chooses to unite, responding to the ways of peace rather than war. What I see is the wisdom of the Spirit of the heart of the Mother… carried by the elders and passed onto the next generation; which nurtures and protects all children from becoming lost and afraid in a world that we often perceive as a dangerous, wild jungle; rather than the paradise it is meant to be. What I see is faith, hope and an enduring, persevering love; for the lost… that refuses to give up… no matter how deep into the wilderness one must travel or how devastating the traumas suffered. This miraculous gift, I see as an awakening moment, of what humanity aught to focus its efforts on.

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      Beautiful awareness of perception in our life journey.
      Am I traveling a wilderness in deprivation or am I traveling a paradise embraced in beauty and abundance.
      I learned by living the desert, the deep, intense beauty that can grab hold of me with ferociousness.
      Thank you for sharing.

  2. Avatar

    In spite of so many ongoing human problems, evil, destructiveness, greed, social inequities, racism, injustices, suffering in human societies historically — especially due to toxic, destructive, unbalanced, unholy patriarchal beliefs/values —, it is so important to maintain our Faith in the Living Presence of our co-Creator~Source’s Divine Spirit of Love~Wisdom~Truth~
    Joy~Compassion… in our hearts and daily lives of compassion with one another, with sacred & beautiful Mother Nature, and within all our sacred multi-dimensional-multiverse Cosmos in our co-Creator~Source’s Loving Evolving Diverse Oneness…. If we open our hearts to this Divine Presence of Love in our hearts, we will also experience, witness, and be moved to compassionate actions along with our Divine sisters and brothers in our daily human lives with one another….

  3. Avatar

    Ty Matthew for your insight into kindness, generosity and sacrifice. Sacrifice is a daring word to use because we fear it. But by using it kindled with kindness, you are helping me become generous again.
    I am restoring myself after many years of caregiving. But I see Sacrifice now as a whole-holy experience when both sacrificer and those sacrificed for, partake of the one body of love, a holy communion feeding us and sustaining us
    in the very act of giving. I had to receive the love of Christ into my very body and remember the love given to me from my mother and father as their child, and the love of my ancestors, and MLK, Gandhi and many others, when it was my call to return this love and care for my parents. Without this love being sacrificed for me,
    passed on to me,
    I could not have done it.
    The love given by others leads the Way.
    We give all that we can so life can go on in this one body we all love and share.
    Without the love from others feeding us we would lose the way.
    Our ancestors blessed the food before they ate it. In this Way we and creation can thrive on a love born out of wholeness
    for generations to come. The story of the Amazon children and their rescuers is another extraordinary example of this love.

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      there is always deep value that touches us when you share from your experience with courage.
      Thank you.

  4. Avatar

    Thank you for the reminder of what sacrifice really is–to make holy. Joann exemplifies what it is in real life: caring for others not out of duty, but out of the love that nourishes us so that we can pass it on. The most striking thing about these children and the rescue, to me, is that the indigenous community made it possible, by teaching the children how to survive in a dire situation and by perseverance in finding them.

  5. Avatar

    For caregivers of ailing parents, it’s devastating watching loved ones become desperately sick, terminally ill and/or senile, but it’s also deeply painful to care for parents who profoundly hurt you, their child, by abuse/neglect. You constantly have to remind yourself that what YOU do is and MUST BE separate from what they did to you.

    A few ideas helped me get through the process (I’m no saint: this was HARD):
    Remind yourself over and over to resist speaking/acting out of your own pain while caregiving. Acknowledge your inner wounded child’s pain and memories but don’t act (out) from that part of you. (You may need additional mental health/spiritual support. Don’t hesitate to get help. Have compassion for your-self).

    Maybe try to see from their (messed up but very human) eyes, to understand their own possibly abused/neglected/traumatized childhoods and how they may have coped with trauma and dysfunction, too. EVERYONE is messed up in so many endlessly creative, uniquely idiosyncratic ways. We’re all winging it.
    This does NOT justify or excuse their bad treatment of you, but it might help the process of letting go of your anger. (It has helped me…usually…).

    And remind yourself that you have a loving exemplar of forgiveness and compassion (Jesus) to be your nudging, gentle, understanding, guiding light, asking you to be your best self when you feel like letting your pain give voice and power to its anger.

    1. Avatar

      I just want to second everything that you have said and encourage self care–Jim Finley says of abusive/neglectful parents that they truly did not know what they were doing, and we try to relate to that part of them that is deep and true and divine, hard as it is. Bless you.

    2. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      Thank you for your sharing.
      I resonate with your comments. Cared for a husband dying from kidney disease while living with Alzheimer disease. One day, in the midst of frustration and anger in the midst of this situation, I finally realized that, YES!, I did have to think for both of us and I did have to care for both of us in absolutely complete ways. Once I came to understand the depth of my call to care, I was more able to live with the demands.
      Thank you for the reminder and for the encouragement your words carry.

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