Small Kindnesses by Danusha Laméris

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”

Small Kindnesses

I first posted this poem in the long-ago summer of 2019, that time before we came to know viruses and war. Now that we are living with both, this is the poem that came to my mind as I considered what to share with you today – a gentle yet fierce reminder of what is truly important when We have so little of each other, now. So far / from tribe and fire.

After two rich years of weekly poems, I am moved to say that I choose these poems to offer a shaft of light in otherwise dark times. These are not messages of positivity nor denial of ugly realities; these poems don’t change what is. What they can do, I believe, is give us a moment of respite, of possibilities. No one can take away beauty once seen, joy once felt; this is what tethers us to the world, creates a small oasis of peace. These poems capture that for me.

As Laméris says of these small kindnesses: What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these / fleeting temples we make together. What if these brief moments of exchange, of kindness, make a difference? How can they not?

27 thoughts on “Small Kindnesses by Danusha Laméris

  1. I love this poem Janice and used it many times. And each time I read it, it’s a gift. Many thanks for the treasures you have collected here and share with all of us. Gentle hugs, Trudy

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  2. One of my favorites (both the poem and poet!). I don’t think referencing and revering art and beauty of the sort which elicits mindfulness and awareness is unimportant in such times as this. In fact it is critical. I think often about the “Send Love” poem you recently shared. THIS, and sharing kindness, laughter, is want we can do. Thanks once again, Jan.

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  3. I haven’t read this poem before. It is a gift this morning – especially after hearing another piece of sad world news. Each small kindness does have a ripple effect. “…Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other….” Beautiful poem Jan. Thank you. .🙏

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  4. I believe if you were to “add up” all the small kindnesses world wide, they would outnumber, big time, that which is unkind – thanks Jan for sharing this beautiful poem again xo

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  5. Dear Jan: Thank you for these wise words:” What they can do, I believe, is give us a moment of respite”. When I feel overwhelmed, I will remember your words, and turn to a poem. xoxo Mary Lou

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  6. Eastern European countries with their welcome of Ukrainian refugees are showing us all what these small kindnesses (and large) can mean in the midst of war. This poem reminds me that when I can do so little to change the hurt of the world, I can do this.

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  7. I am totally tethered to your Heart Poems. I have been the entire year since I discovered them. When I first discovered the blog, I didn’t know it was a blog. I only recently started writing my own blog and realized you were on Word Press too. (I know…a little unconscious.) You have given me much light and joy throughout this difficult year. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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  8. I love this, Jan, thank you. A few months ago I joined a Facebook group called, “The Kindness Pandemic”. I am touched daily by the shared stories of kindnesses… big and small. They cheer me and give me hope.

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  9. Just reading this today Jan. Such a beautiful and touching poem. I love it! “What if they are the true dwelling of the holy…..” This made me cry. Thanks for sharing what you love Jan. It’s such a gift. xoxo

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