Aroha mai, aroha atu
Kindness received, kindness given

Kindness is a way of life and a treasure beyond all else.

Another whakatauki reads:

Ahakoa he iti he pounamu
Even though it is small it is a treasure

A small act of kindness proliferates into more of the same. 

It grows in the person who gives it, becoming in them more and more their instinct and habit. 

It grows in the person who receives it, like the way a smile from one person triggers the other to smile, a smile that is then passed on to more and more others.

A child learns kindness by receiving it and, I believe, by having their instinctive little acts of kindness appreciated and affirmed.  Presented by a toddler with a bunch of flowering weeds, would you ever say anything but

“Lovely! Thank you very much for this beautiful gift!”

As we grow up, experiences of getting things wrong – wrong in terms of popular perception – can make us hold back.  We don’t get humoured any more.  Who wants to feel a fool? 

But then, hopefully, we get to realise that it is much better to appear a fool and be kind than to be smart and unkind.  That’s my baseline understanding of Jesus and of what is involved in following the way of Christ.

I’ve been very much running on the kindness of others in recent days as I face one of my biggest challenges ever. 

You could say that it’s been a bit stressful.  What has surely helped me keep on track has been the people around me who, without fuss, have given me little doses of kindness, each in their own way.

On reflection, I’ve been running on the kindness of others for decades. 

For all we might say about church, what stands out to me is the kindness of church people. Church doesn’t have a monopoly on kindness: I’m surrounded by many people not connected with church who are equally kind.  The Spirit we speak of in Bible terms is alive and out there, very often calling us to join in.  Aroha mai, aroha atu.  The Spirit is urging us not stay safe and secure with kindness just among our own kind.  But out among many different kinds, being kind regardless of knowing the response we will get.   

And yet I reckon it’s in this delightful family of Christ that I’ve been able to count on it most. For all our differences and idiosyncrasies, some challenging, some inspiring, some irritating, there’s a pervading atmosphere of kindness that we pick up from one another. 

In relation to this I have found a strong bond with Māoritanga: so much in common between Christian values and what I have experienced among the people of the land (tangata whenua) in the North.  

Kindness is at its heart, the word aroha embracing it plus so much more.   Manaakitanga is the real essence of what we see in terms as the spirit of Christ.  It is aroha in community, interacting with, embracing, and reaching out to all kinds of people.

That’s the quality to hold on to.   Caring, welcoming, accepting, open hospitality, giving and receiving.

Nurturing relationships and therefore never-ending in its loving kindness.

Rangimarie Peace Shalom

July 2019


Robyn's Ramblings