Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Dance of Kindness

This last year since moving, Tim and I talk frequently about The Dance of Kindness, the circle of giving and receiving which creates bonds of friendship.

Let me illustrate.  When we began attending church in Lindstrom, a woman named Diane turned around after a service and struck up a conversation with us which lead to a church tour, other introductions, and an invitation to a Sunday School class.  We went to the class and then we asked for horse manure from her horses for our garden and she offered the use of her truck.  We shoveled manure into her pick-up while she explained to us why we needed a cat.  We were sure we didn't need a cat and more sure we didn't want a cat but we met the stray cat she'd just rescued anyway and agreed to think about adopting him.  On the way home, I explained that the next move in the Dance of Kindness was ours and for that alone, I thought we should take the cat.  The next day, we brought Diane's family a pie and agreed to take him.  She had him vet checked first and we brought him home and named him Zed.  When he presented us with his first mouse kill, Tim paraded Zed around the house on his shoulder while we cheered and clapped.  We've been mouse-free ever since.  But better than the cat, we've gained family friends.

I remember last fall my amazement at this process.  I understood this dance, exchanging favors and kindnesses and friendship.  Often before, I felt like the currency of exchange in community was coolness points or beauty or a specific interest which I didn't have.  But not here.  Here the currency is kindness.

We share extra vegetables.  The neighbors bring house warming gifts and give us a ride on their 4-wheeler.

The neighbor we'd never met plows us out on the first big snow before we have a truck.  Tim plows the whole road to the corner when we do have a truck.

The farmers sell us great milk cheap and manure for our garden and we prioritize participating in their community service project and stop by to see their kids' cows at the fair.  

Looking for every opportunity to share- that's fun and thrifty and clever.  Would you like our scrap wood?  Have some lettuce.  Sure, put your garbage in with our special pick-up; we've already paid the truck fee.  I'll trade you help with your blog set-up for installing my light sockets.  

My neighbor Kifah and I on our first Sunday morning gardening swap.
She has more experience and chatting makes the chores fly.

And here's where this Dance gets really interesting- often the next best move is to need something.  Can we see your bees?  How do you maple syrup?  Could you come and teach me which plants in my garden are weeds and which are my vegetables?  Could you incubate guinea eggs for me?  Could I ride your horse?  Would you teach us how to fish? 

 Mark and our neighbor Kiernan with the bird house he built with scrap wood from our basement.
Woodworker has wood; we have basement space.  Plus we've commissioned a bat house.

Both giving and receiving become part of the relationship.  And contrary to expectations, being willing to receive is as important as creative giving.  Perhaps this learning on our part is one of the reasons why we have so many friends all of a sudden.

I gotta say that being part of a community which does this Dance of Kindness routinely and generally- lots of people, all the time- makes a huge difference in our quality of life.  It's really fun waiting to see how the next problem will be solved or where the next generosity will come from or how excess will become someone's answer.

We are very, very grateful.


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