When I Hear Your Beloved Voice'

By Phil Bolsta

My daughter was 21 and living away from home for the first time, in an apartment she shared with another young woman. I stopped by for a visit and found her in a foul mood. When she snapped at me, I quietly left. I drove straight to a floral shop, then returned to her apartment and presented her with a rose and a note that essentially said that, no matter what she said or did, I could always see the beauty and purity of her soul shining through. In an instant, her bad mood vanished as if it had never been and she was her normal kind, wonderful self again. We had a good talk and a good hug. And the rest of her day was better than it would have been.

Many years before that exchange with my daughter, I was battling a co-worker over her smoking habit. As hard as it is to imagine now, smoking used to be allowed in the workplace and Kathy’s desk was close to mine. It was a battle I couldn’t win; she wasn’t about to quit smoking and I wasn’t about to quit my job. One day I went to a flower shop and had a rose delivered to her at work. If I recall, I wrote on the card something to the effect that what I was objecting to was her smoking, not her as a person, and that I hoped we could get along better. She was absolutely floored, and our relationship was instantaneously transformed.

Choosing kindness is always an option. Especially when you are treated unkindly or when people are expecting you to be upset. Not only will your unexpected kindness be deeply appreciated, the remembrance of it will likely occupy a special place in their heart, a place they can return to for comfort and peace — and for sharing that peace with others when the opportunity arises.

Choosing kindness is both selfless and selfish. Years ago, even though I already immensely cherished my daughter, I consciously worked to heighten my appreciation of her even more. I didn’t want to waste one moment of my life not feeling anything but love for her because I knew that years later, I would look back with great regret if I had wasted any opportunities to express my love. Ultra-appreciating her has since become deeply ingrained in me and, even though she is now forty years old and married, I light up like the sun every time I hear her voice.

May you feel for your loved ones the way that Sister Gyanamata felt for her guru, Paramahansa Yogananda. I can’t imagine a more beautiful way to express the depth of this love than the simple words she wrote to him:
 

When I hear your beloved voice, wings grow at my heels.
 

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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 16: Kindness

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