I came across a short clip yesterday that was truly remarkable. It showed a man crouching down in a scorched Australian forest to give a koala a drink of water. After a minute, the koala reached out its paws, grabbed the man’s hand and held it.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about kindness, the way we show it, but also how we thank someone else for offering it to us. I’m almost certain that no human can ever demonstrate gratitude as well as that koala. Doesn’t it lift your heart when you realise that, beyond calculating, begrudging humanity, the animal kingdom has something to teach us?
I’m in the privileged position of having a very visible, slightly fixable need that people can offer help with most days, if I let them. It is really hard to accept help. It will always sting your pride a little, make you feel weak. But, like the thirsty koala, you need it.
Before I got sick, I always wanted to be like my mum. All my life, I have watched her go out of her way to show kindness to people that cross her path. She found the needy, and welcomed them in to our home. She always went above and beyond, however tired she was, or stressed. ‘Be gracious’ was her motto. I never thought that that would be so physically difficult for me to emulate. I never thought that I would be more on the receiving end than the giving.
So my challenge now is to seek out small chances to show tiny kindnesses to the people around me. And also to swallow my pride and be grateful when it’s shown to me.
What do you see in the world around you that teaches you kindness and gratitude? How can you live out that lesson today?
Do a search for that koala, and think of how you can be like him or her too.