In Ephesians we read, “Be kind to one another…” A little kindness can go a long way. Especially these days, when there is so much that divides us from one another. A simple act of kindness can build a bridge.


In her poem called Small Kindnesses, Danusha Laméris names these bridges. She calls them “fleeting temples” we make together when we offer kindness to those around us.

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”


To continue naming “fleeting temples,” Laméris collaborated with the New York Times earlier this year. The Times asked teenagers to read her poem and to reflect on the small kindnesses they appreciate. Over 1,300 youth responded! Laméris fashioned their responses into a collaborative poem.

She reflects on this experience:

The smallest things we do just might matter a great deal. I am moved by the realization that simply speaking a name, giving a wave, or offering a space in traffic could change someone’s whole day. Or more…I am grateful to these young poets for opening spaces of possibility for all of us. Thank you for showing us ways we might lighten the load for someone else, and for showing us how to notice the goodness already all around us every day.


Share a kindness you have recently appreciated or offered.


-Written by Rev. Ann Palmerton

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  1. Rosemary Tolliver September 14, 2022 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    I have this poem hanging up where I can see it every day! I love the phrase “fleeting temples” and all those who aid in their construction. Carrie Newcomer calls it “shifting the balance” and shares more examples in her Gathering of Spirits newsletter.

  2. Diane Hunter September 14, 2022 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Today one of the staff in my Downtown building brought me a serving of her homemade white chili and cornbread. Not the first time she has shown me this kindness. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by kindnesses.

  3. Kellie Toole Field September 15, 2022 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Phoenix Airport rental car shuttle bus was full. My son and I gave up our seats to an elderly couple. I thought nothing if it, but they must have thanked us 4 times! My 5 year old looked at me and grinned from ear to ear.

  4. Alison Barret September 16, 2022 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Those “little” moments are really just the bricks of humanity, wrapped in respect, stacked one on top and aside each other. This poem is a lovely reminder.

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