A Witness to Kindness


KINDNESS, get into the Habit

I was intrigued by this message. A message that was being promoted during National Catholic Sisters Week last March. What does it mean for me to get into the habit of being kind? While waiting in a salon to get my hair cut I had the time to observe kindness taking place. 

There were several people ahead of me also waiting to get their hair cut. Instead of leaving and getting busy about the rest of my tasks, I decided to just sit and observe what was going on around me. When I stepped inside the salon I noticed that several of those waiting had a distinctive appearance about them. My nostrils registered smoke and sweat. I saw dirty clothing, frayed hems on jeans a little too long and shoes that were well worn from walking.

One by one names were called and haircuts were given. One particular stylist caught my attention. She didn’t see or smell what I was seeing and smelling. She looked in the eyes of each one, gently ran her fingers through hair and asked what kind of hair trim they wanted. One younger man wore a hoodie that covered his hair. When he removed the hood his hair was long and matted into natural dreadlocks. He wanted his head shaved. The stylist engaged him in conversation and slowly began removing layer after layer of dirty, gnarled hair. She treated him with respect that was fitting a king. Nothing indicated that she struggled to do her job. When she finished with him, he paid her and walked out the door.

The stylist called the next waiting person who happened to be an 18-month old boy named Hank. At first everything was going fine because daddy was standing close by watching. All seemed to be going well so daddy got in a chair with another stylist to get his hair cut. The little boy’s six-year-old sister stood by chattering to Hank. But Hank was distraught—he couldn’t see dad. Even with the upset, the stylist continued to cut his hair, sometimes pickup up Hank and centering him in the chair. Older sister couldn’t console him either. It took dad to calm him down. Again, the stylist was so kind and gentle. Hank finally settled down and the haircut was finished.

This stylist was in the habit of being kind. Her work was what I would call a ministry. I am sorry that the other stylist cut my hair. I so wanted to tell her what an inspiration she was to me.

I have put my thoughts together three weeks after the Kindness event. I think I will send these few brief reflections to the salon. I am sure they will know who this gentle and kind stylist is.

A kind person in her own right, Sister Kathleen Storms, SSND, is the director of Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat.