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What’s Your Kindness Look Like?

Love is patient; love is kind…

As a community, Root & Vine is dedicated to sharing stories of real humans doing real things to make the world a better place, stories that unite rather than divide, stories that challenge us to see each other for who we truly are as believers, as Americans, in all of our shapes and forms.  Because of this, we celebrate World Kindness Day, and we ask a simple question: What’s your kindness? 

A dictionary definition says kindness is a noun — “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” A quality of being. A way to function in the world. A second definition says kindness is “a kind act.” Kindness is literally part of its own definition. Like love, no single definition can fully express its meaning. There are upwards of 100 verses in the Bible related to kindness. These verses talk about kindness as love in action; love lived out loud. They tell us that love has the power to cast out fear and cover a multitude of wrongs. 

We see this love in action every day in our communities, in the stories that we lift humbly into the world, a world that could use some Good News right about now. These stories are yours, so come alongside as we ask — what’s your kindness? How do you give kindness? Where do you see kindness? And we bring you thoughts from a few of the shining Americans we’ve had the honor of featuring in Root & Vine. From a veteran farmer in Vermont to a songwriter in Nashville, to the National Guard in West Virginia, these voices explore not only what kindness looks like, but they remind us that kindness is not relegated to one day of remembrance, or a hashtag, but rather makes up the very fabric of our faith, rooted in love, extended to the world.

Alissa Moreno takes a day off with her two sons. Photo: Jason Oschwald

Alissa Moreno 

Grammy-nominated songwriter and performing artist; owner of BAAM Collective, Nashville, TN

“Kindness changes for me often. I have always felt that it’s an important thing to choose, and I constantly evaluate the intention behind it. A few years ago, I was asked to bring my songwriting into the prisons to help those incarcerated express themselves and heal. I have zero personal connection to this cause and said yes on a whim. I never looked back, and now I say yes every chance I get. What I learned about kindness is that there is incredible value in showing someone that they are worthy of love, of compassion, of concern, of being heard, of justice, of light, of joy, NO MATTER who they are or what they have done or been through in this life.”

Read how Alissa Moreno found new purpose in Songwriter Pens New Curriculum for Back to School. 

Tur’e M. Johnson harvests the goods from a towering tomato plant. Photo: Mike Easter

Tur’e M. Johnson 

Assistant Manager, Paradise Farms, Dunbar, WV

“Kindness, to me, is the unadulterated sharing of one’s time, resources, and abilities for the betterment of those with whom you come in contact.” 

Coming soon…Paradise Farms Thrives in a West Virginia Food Desert.  

Reverend Rachel Collins smiles at the thought of kindness. Photo: Celeste Kelly

Reverend Rachel Collins

Commissioned “Earthkeeper;” Masters candidate at Candler School of Theology; founder of the Ministry Garden at Burks United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN 

“Kindness, to me, is finding new ways to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the people around me, through housing opportunities, fresh food deliveries, and deep conversations and prayer. I experience kindness through kind words, long conversations, hot tea, and help even when I didn’t ask for it.”

Read about Ministering in the Garden with Reverend Rachel Collins and A Ministry Garden for the Hard Times Too, and don’t miss her recipe for Fried Okra from the Giving Garden.

Jon Turner feeling alive at Horsetail Falls, Colombia River Gorge, Oregon. Photo: Cathy Turner

Jon Turner

Iraq War veteran turned regenerative farmer, owner of Wild Roots Farm, Bristol, VT.

“When I consider moments in life of less than ideal circumstances that had impacted inner balance, confidence, or the ability to remain happy, what has lifted me up were acts of kindness by those with whom I am close, but also by common folk with no prior relation. I believe that human beings are kind in nature, compassionate, and truly desire for others to be well. This notion allows me to re-center and re-align with values that help me to maintain integrity and, in return, provide the same generosity of human spirit that might allow another to find purpose and peace once more.  

Having served multiple deployments to areas of conflict in Iraq and also Haiti, I viewed the impact of poverty and degradations of war that had claimed too much territory. It is presumable that kindness could not exist in places such as these, but it was, in fact, the opposite. On several occasions, we were met with open arms, which led to conversations of family and perspective, humor, and humility among the ranks, or the sharing of watermelon by the farmer and his sons.  Kindness allowed for many to see humanness in another and dissolve the idea that those who do not believe as we believe are the enemy. 

Within conflict and civil unrest, there will always remain harmful intentions and believers who desire to carry out harm, but I firmly believe that upon the removal of labels and judgment and by respecting the life of others regardless their beliefs, by embodying integrity and creating space that allows the heart to speak true, a natural disposition for humanity is to be kind.  Maybe I am foolish to believe in this, but the possibility of it to be so is what inspires my path in life to work with community.”

Read about how Farming and Community Help Heal a Local Vet

Melissa Stewart leading a virtual hydroponics workshop for Paradise Guardens. Photo: Ellie Stewart

Melissa Stewart

Director of Patriot Guardens; Director of Business Development West Virginia National Guard/Military Authority, Charleston, WV. 

“Kindness, to me, is the giving of oneself or sharing without expectation of anything in return. Being kind is the ultimate unselfish act that is not broadcasted or acknowledged in any way other than that wonderful warm feeling you get inside knowing you helped make someone’s life just a little better. I have been blessed to witness some of the best reflections of kindness through my interactions with active and retired service members. It is humbling to experience their selfless nature and to watch them give so much of themselves on a daily basis– they epitomize the definition of kindness.”

Read about Melissa Stewart Planting for the Future with Patriot Guard(ens).

Al Andrews takes his kindness to the streets of Italy. Photo: Nita Andrews

Al Andrews 

Founder and executive director of Porter’s Call, Franklin, TN

“I experience kindness when I have an unspoken need or longing, and someone sees it in my eyes and moves toward me to meet it.”

Read about An Evening of Stories, a Lifetime of Healing with Al Andrews, and Porter’s Call. 

Shelli Conaway at home. Photo courtesy of Shelli Conaway

Shelli Conaway

Founder and CEO of Trucks with Room to Spare, Lexington, KY  

“Kindness to me is caring for others. We should care for and help others in need — seniors, children, and also disaster victims (a group I care about greatly). While we all may be having difficulties in our lives, there is always someone worse off than you who would love to have your problems. Smile and say hi to someone — it will make their day!”

Read about Truckers on the Frontlines of Recovery and how Trucks with Room to Spare CEO Shelli Conaway Delivers the Goods.

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