Author Archives: Jenny Sullivan

Dear Beloved: Kindness

Dear Beloved,

Be kind. There are many things that seem to matter, but few things that do, and this is one of them. Never underestimate the difference a little kindness can make on this world. It is not just about doing kind things or listing off acts or accomplishments as concrete displays of kindness. It’s about being kind. Perhaps you are kind to a stranger you will never see again or to a person who will never appreciate your kindness. Kindness does not exist because of visibility. In fact, unseen kindness is often the most beautiful, because it is guided only by love. And kindness cannot be measured – there is no way of determining the exact impact of a moment of kindness, but it is true that God gathers up each little kindness in His hands and never lets a single one go.

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Dear Beloved: Little Triumphs

“Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.” -Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

In this new series, beginning with the post below, I want to reflect on the idea that each one of us is the Beloved – we have a value that cannot be taken away and that is rooted in our dignity and uniqueness, a worth based on being and not contingent on what we do or have not done. With this in mind, I wrote these letters to myself but also more broadly to all of us, to each individual who desires to love and be loved, who has felt that thrumming doubt within them – the voice that says perhaps you are not enough. In these letters, I want to listen to a different voice – one that says you are set apart and loved, and can love yourself as well; that your value does not rest on anything other than being, and that you can rest in this truth and feel at peace.

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Creating Kindness

Something I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately is kindness and its value in our world. We all have a need for community, a yearning to express ourselves and feel loved and understood. I was planning to begin writing a series that took kindness as its topic, exploring the little concrete ways we can increase the presence of kindness in our daily lives. However, in light of the current state of things and social distancing measures, our capacity for kind acts might seem to be diminished. How can we show kindness when we can only see each other from afar?

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The Littleness of Life

If something small is capable of bringing you happiness – let it. Be in that moment, imagining this little joy can fill you up. Allow it to matter.

Don’t dismiss it as meaningless, trivial, or not enough. It is enough for this present, and doesn’t need to be more. The next moments will bring their own meaning – their own sorrows and joys – and you will be able to handle them when they come, but not before.

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Waiting for Birds

There is something so beautiful and small about feeding the birds. I paused on my walk through the woods and stretched out my hand. In the distance, both in front and behind, the sound of children’s laughter and crunching of crisp snow echoed along the otherwise secluded path. 

I raised my hand a little higher. The little black seeds stood out against my open palm, an offering extended freely. The sun filtered through the spindly branches and cast shadows: those little strips of light were painting the snow. I looked up.

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Wonder

What is the value of wonder?

This is something I have been reflecting on lately, and the idea was brought into sharper focus when I was running along my usual route. The path beside the water was dappled with winter – there were icy patches in the pavement cracks and streaks of frost on the grass. But the landscape was not yet consumed by winter’s silence: it was still alive and visible beneath this surface layer of cold and snow. The water was also not subdued: it moved with great freedom, waves that rolled in sharpened wind. 

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