the cycles of great kindness…

August 21, 2011

Jack, February 2011

This boy and his bike…there was a deep love. I completely get it. The wind blowing on your face, going faster than your legs can take you, all of boyhood in its perfect freedom. I knew it was gonna be bad. I came home late Monday night to find our gate wide open, 2 boys bikes gone. They hadn’t been locked, I guess we felt so at home, guards were down….or maybe there were never any guards up and we are at home in every way, I dunno. I told him gently but he very dramatically ran to the porch just to make sure it was true. He burst into tears…it was the saddest cry from an 8 year old you’ve ever heard.

“I just don’t understand mom, why? Why would someone take my bike from me? I loved that bike so much mom, it was the one I learned to ride on. We had so, so many good times…” he went on remembering. His view of the world was rocked.

I didn’t care too much about the bikes, they were thrift store specials. One really good find (a Trek) but even that bike was too small for him now. My head goes straight to – the need must have been great to take them, on whatever level. And it’s just stuff, right? This is the story I tried to tell my boy to soothe his wounds, and he looked like he was trying to take it in…but it doesn’t change the fact that you are sad and disappointed.  I didn’t even try to take that away, because so often grief is a friend to us in times like these. It means we care and love…even for simple things like bicycles and memories.

I looked at the sidewalk art Lyra and I made on the morning the bikes were stolen. This Way To Love… and maybe my invitation was clear, if this was what someone needed- love, in whatever form. Every now and then I start to wonder if I live in a Kindness Wonderland (a la Alice), a place I have created in my head and heart. The one that Pollyanna dances in, far from cynicism and darkness, one that believes over and over again the good, that kindness can be found, no matter what. Sometimes, this way does require you to believe 6 impossible things before breakfast…and then there are moments when I start to wonder if I just fell down the hole, I must be mad.

Mad or not, my children will have to decide for themselves, and even I couldn’t blame them for any conclusions they were making that day. We walked to the park but that just reminded him of more riding adventures. We came home and he cried some more, it was so heartbreaking.  Less than an hour later there was a knock at the door.

I opened the door and literally gasped. The whole street, men, women, kids, babies, with the same gates wide open and gathered ’round stood there with two new bikes…and now I was the one who burst into tears.

They said they wanted Jack to know the world was still good. …and my world was rocked. That people would love my family this way, that the impossible thought of great kindness was real, that we would be humbled and so deeply touched by it…over and over again, that any shred of doubt would be replaced with such assurance, stronger than before. The fact that we get to live next to these people, side by side, every day- this is the greatest kindness.

We didn’t know how we could ever thank them, although Jack suggested ding dong ditching them his entire savings, we settled on some homemade chocolate chip cookies and thank you notes. When all was said and done, Jack told me he thought in the end maybe everyone got what they needed- the person who took his bike, his lesson about the world and his new bike, and our family.

…and I’m pretty sure I know the way to love, thank you to our street for reminding me, it’s all right here, Wonderland and all.

19 Responses to “the cycles of great kindness…”

  1. shannon Says:

    So touching!

  2. Melinda Says:

    Perhaps my favorite post yet. Love it on so many levels.

  3. Erin Wilson Says:

    Oh my… totally crying over here.

    You helped to make that. The way you live your life, and the way you raise your kids… you’re changing the atmosphere there.

    ps. that’s one super mature kid you’ve got there, to get his head around all of that!

  4. Brenda Says:

    beautiful…love the lessons (so many lessons in one happening)…and I love that you had kindness showered upon your family…Love the Alice analogy…Wonderland rocks…and last but not least…I LOVED the name of this post…cycles of great kindness…so perfect!

  5. Shari Says:

    I love this and your posts. So so good.

  6. angharad Says:

    oh my! this is just what i needed to read today. thank you!

  7. Sam Bernstein Says:

    Dear kindnessgirl when I read your story it brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. Now everytime I look around I will remember you and the kindness in you heart and the love and joy you bring to everyone.may God Bless you and everyone around you. I feel in my heart that everyone on earth has a purpose, and yours is to bring love and happiness to everyone you touch . May God bless you and your family on this day of days and forever
    My daughter sent this to me

    • kindnessgirl Says:

      Mr. Bernstein…I am so, so grateful to your daughter and son-in-law (and your sweet grandbaby) for showing me such kindness and loving my kids!…and teaching me to hold tightly to what I know to be true. You have SO much to be proud of, you did a wonderful job sir…Paula and Greg are amazing people and I’m so glad we get to be part of something so special here on our street with them. Thank you for taking the time to write me…your words and family mean so much.


  8. People are good if we make room for goodness. Thanks for sharing this amazing story. xoxo

  9. Maggi Says:

    I’m teary and speechless. Look how you inspire! XXO

  10. amy Says:

    whoa. love out, love in.

  11. Kim Says:

    wonderful wonderful story. I have a son who used to be young and ride his bike ALL of the time. I know of the bond between a boy and his bike.
    Thank you for sharing.

  12. Mrs.Peyton Says:

    Patience! I’m in tears….Jack told us at school about the bike being stolen and a new one being purchased by his neighbors. Hearing it from him was not quite a spowerful as reading the whole story from a mom’s point of view and understanding how he really felt. I was only able to see the JOY after the fact, so the initial hurt was gone by the time the story made it to our ears. This is absolutely -AWESOME! Glad to know there are still kind hearts and spirits surrounding us. Thanks for sharing this story. And I LOVE all the photos. I enjoyed photography when I was in school and surround myself with photo now as well..great memories come from behind a lens. ~Excited to read more~

  13. Jess Says:

    Just read this and cried all over again. I feel for Jack, my own (brand new, days-old!) bike was stolen last year, and the loss went beyond the feeling of violation of somebody coming into my garage and taking something that was mine. There was also the loss of the joy of riding that came with that bike, the freedom of feeling wind and rain on your face while you glide down the street. Biking is pure bliss. Like you, I felt like somebody who would take that away from another person must have a deep need, a hole inside them, and they needed it more than I did.

    Your neighbors’ love is amazing and inspiring, and I would bet that they also got what they needed by giving Jack this gift. There really is so much goodness in the world.

  14. Ally Bean Says:

    I followed the link from Schmutzie over to here. This is such a sweet, encouraging story. Thank you for sharing it. I feel revived.

  15. I have been feeling just like Jack. For a different reason. But the same feeling. It was so wonderful to read about your neighbors, to see Jack’s faith in the kindness of people brought back to him. I really needed to see that. I think it helped repair a little bit of this hole in my heart. Thank you for sharing this story.

  16. Alix Says:

    What wonderful neighbors you have… how much kindness you have shared that has come back to you!

    But only hesitance about this story is suggesting that whoever took the bikes “needed” them in some way. No, people do not have a pressing “need” for kids’ bikes, and if they do, there are ways to acquire them without taking them from others. People who steal generally do so out of greed, opportunity and the thrill of taking what doesn’t belong to them. I was hesitate to teach my children that people do bad things out of “need”. There are too may other ways — in this country, anyway — to get what you need without violating the rights and privacy of others.

  17. […] people reminded my kids that the world is kind, even when they started to doubt. When their 2 beloved bikes were stolen off the front porch, a […]

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