The Power of Nice

Do you realize that you possess an enormous power that can actually make or break another person?
by Kathryn M. Cunningham, MAPS | Source:

It was a great week-end, three days of my favorite things packed into one week-end.  That wasn’t what made this trifecta so perfect, though.  The best part was how the kindness of a generous person just stayed with me in a way that I really couldn’t explain.

As a twenty something I began to voraciously follow an avocation that I had all my life.  I found a great teacher and worked hard at learning how to be a classical singer.  I am currently decades past that era but still love that literature in a way that just haunts me whenever I hear it.  Needless to say, as you age, the invitations to sing the arias, art songs and concertize are not as frequent as they once were.   My parish is a mix of people and because it is urban we have persons of many interests and talents.  We are lucky to have a published poet as a member and she has put time and energy into a regular program feature that we have come to call: “Tea and Poetry”.  T & P has blossomed in a way that we never imagined.  Our poet decided that a great new presentation would revolve around the Italian American experience.  Two of her friends are also published poets, all are Italian.  So, “Tre Pisani” was hatched.  It would include poetry about the Italian American experience as well as music from the culture.  I asked her if she had ever heard what I refer to as the real “roots” of Italian Poetry and Music, the 16th and 17th century Art Song.  These little gems were really the pieces where the passion of Italian poetry turned into music and born from that the Aria, and eventually, the full drama of opera.  It was an easy sell and after hearing some samples she decided that this music would be included.  After some conversation her face lit up and she asked: “Do you know any of these?” You know my reply!  In a grace filled statement she extended the invitation: “Your beautiful voice, Kathryn, could you sing some of these?”   My delight was “beyond”, but more than that her simple but elegant kindness went straight to my heart. I almost felt the zing as I took in the statement.  Ellen had only ever heard me sing by being near me at Mass!  Her invitation was not only generous, but filled with a grace that communicated a “million” sentiments to me:  respect, appreciation, equality, love, blessing, healing, goodness, joy.  The “halo effect” from her simple and loving statement lasted for days.  I kept turning it over in my head and each time I did, it made me smile.  The power of that kind thought, the invitation and the loving statement was enormous.

The bible tells us "Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Prov 18:21)  In short, you have the literal ability to create life and joy in someone or to kill any good thing in them, simply by what you say.  Experts tell us that there is no difference in the lasting effects of verbal abuse or physical abuse. They are the same. Wounding the spirit tells in the body and wounding the body tells in the spirit.  The power that we have in the simple and uncomplicated act of what we say is enormous.  How mindful are you of what you say?

I am an “old salt” and, even at this age, the impact of the kindness that came out of Ellen’s mouth was both tangible and lasting.   It also triggered a recall of other kind things that people have said to me in the past.  So the “power of nice” is long lasting as well as cascading. Somehow it enters our soul and heals us in a way that we simply can’t explain.  It takes root and is not easily extricated from our being.  Interestingly enough, the week-end of the program was the same week-end of the “great commission” Gospel for Mass.  You know, the one that commands us to love one another!  On one of my other outings in my trifecta week-end I heard a favorite priest/friend of mine remind us that: “Love is not what you feel, it’s what you do in spite of what you feel”.   The simple act of saying something kind to someone is an act of love whether you recognize it or not.  Like all the things that Jesus taught us it is not complicated, it does not cost money and it does not take as special skill or schooling to accomplish.  Anyone can do it. Do you have he courage to obey Jesus’ commandment?   Tre Pisani?  It was great!  The poems elegant, the refreshments spectacular, the music, what about the music?  The soprano knew her stuff and obviously loved what she sang!  The power of nice; realize that for we who believe, it’s not a choice it’s a responsibility, complete with long lasting consequences! 

Copyright©2010, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved.

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