Day 42: Drop by drop

I found a thought by biographer James Boswell that I simply love:

We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over, so in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one which makes the heart run over. 

Kindnesses. Interesting word. It makes me consider the doing for others. Sometimes it’s helping someone who needs a hand up. Sometimes it’s simply opening the door. It can be a meal when needed, or watching someone’s child. Sometimes it’s an encouraging word, or a prayer. It can be a real, physical gift or a listening ear.

But as I think about that idea, the kindnesses aren’t just one way; it’s a series, and it’s reciprocal. It has to be for it to be genuine friendship. Otherwise, it’s just one person doing kindnesses for another. That’s a nice thing, especially for the receiver (unless you gain great joy in giving and giving without receiving). But it’s not friendship. Believe me…I’ve been in a bunch of one-way “friendships” and the moment the giver stops giving, the “friendship” dies away.

Finally, I enjoy the idea of the drop that makes the vessel (and the heart) run over. It’s not just that one thing, that moment in time, that creates the friendship. The drop, when it mingles with all the other liquid in the vessel, becomes impossible to discern from the other drops that went into the vessel. It becomes a collection of all the kindnesses, love, memories, and more that creates a bond.

Sometimes the vessel fills up quickly, but most often, trust needs to be built over time. As you’re filling vessels with kindnesses, be on the look out for those reciprocal kindnesses, and you may be on the way to finding a new kindred.

DAY 42 HOMEWORK: What can you do today that adds kindnesses to someone else’s vessel? Watch for those opportunities and act on them.


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