In the beautifully illustrated book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy
offers wisdom for young and old alike. Sitting together on a tree branch, the mole asks the boy,
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“Kind,” said the boy.
The pandemic has confirmed that our lives are interconnected—the decision of one affects the
lives of others, we all suffer, we need each other. Compassion is rooted in this understanding.
Compassion invites us to offer our nonjudgmental presence to the one who is suffering and is
closely followed by extending kindness, intentionally taking action to relieve or prevent
Years ago on the day after Thanksgiving my extended family gathered to offer random acts of
kindness in the community. Small groups took off in different directions with a collection of
gifts: wool socks, home-baked cookies, children’s books, and grocery store gift cards. Several
hours later we gathered to share stories. As we reflected we wondered, “In what ways were we
being invited to offer kindness to relieve suffering every day?”
“Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses,” said the mole.
“We often wait for kindness, but being kind to yourself can start now.”
How might our lives and our communities be transformed if we intentionally turned toward
ourselves with kindness each day in an attempt to relieve our own suffering—choosing to rest
rather than push through, offering ourselves forgiveness for a mistake made, or responding with
a gentleness to the heaviness, fear, anxiety, or sadness we feel.
The Buddhist loving-kindness meditation is a powerful practice of compassion. Naming our
intention for the well-being of all of creation, it begins with first extending loving kindness to
ourselves, and then is repeated for those close to us, those outside of our circle, and then for all
Begin by bringing your awareness inside. Follow your breath in and down.
May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body, mind, and spirit.
May I be at ease and happy.
Pause. Ask yourself, “What is the kindest thing I can do for myself in this moment?” Listen for
the response. Then, as an act of kindness, do it.