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Have You a Courteous Heart?


Last Halloween I sent Lynn a book.  Within a week, she had sent a note to say Thank you, and by Thanksgiving, she mailed a long letter telling me how much she enjoyed the book.  Now, this may not seem earth shattering in and of itself, but it does prove that even in these hectic times, some souls still possess a gracious courteous heart.

          What is a courteous heart, you ask?  Manners, breeding, decorum, savoir-faire all define courteous.  A quality that is so often missing in our society, but one that Lynn possesses.  Her courteous heart often refers to the gift I gave her five years ago.  I do not remember what it is I gave her, but she does.  It is her repeated gratitude over my kindness that illustrates her genteel manner.

          The courteous heart can do everything beautifully from allowing shoppers with fewer items ahead in line, to passing the salt before being asked at dinner.  For the courteous hearts, a simple “Good Morning” is pleasing.  It is too bad that most people growl the sentiment as they rush past us making a sound something akin to having a tooth pulled.  Then, there are those who just simply refuse to acknowledge others at all unlike the courteous of heart. The courteous speak distinctly and with kindness so one never has to ask, “What did you say?”

          Think about the usual birthday gift or Christmas present.  It is the one wrapped in pretty paper and adorned with ribbon.  A symbol of what all friendly acts should be–kindness performed with imagination.  Then what is giving?  Ah, the courteous heart makes it their business to know what a friend really wants.  One friend I have believes it is her job to give the most thoughtful of gifts.  Once, I mentioned that I crave cucumbers in sour cream, and I wistfully dreamed of eating this fare at every meal.  I will tell you, I have never had a meal at her house since, without finding a delicious bowl of cucumbers in sour cream.

          It is not easy, this business of giving; it is an art.  An art requires time and imagination to pull off.  For instance, for my thirty-fifth birthday, my husband contrived a treasure hunt that I had to follow under the direction of tiny sticky notes.  The clues–some being very vague–lead me to a hotel room. My arms were loaded with packages I had found along the hunt.  When I arrived at the hotel and opened the door to room 132, I found, to my delight the best surprise party I have ever experienced!  There will never be a gift more spectacular as that.  It was not wrapped in pretty paper or ribbons, but packaged with thought, imagination, and hard work.

          The courteous of heart often out perform ordinary folk in manners and decorum, even in everyday tasks.  A co-worker named Joe, understood kindness to an impressive dimension.  He never let a morning pass without a personal greeting and a smile, he held elevators for others, sent out cards in sympathy and in congratulations, avoided gossip, and expressed a positive thought about all he met. He accomplished all this with the humblest of attitudes.  His courteous heart was automatic. Joe had lived it for so long that his kindness and courtesy functioned without deliberate thought.

          Must we all be like my co-worker?   It would be nice, but I would not go that far.  Joe is a perfect mentor, and we can all strive for his ideal.  Maybe it is enough to ask- that when you are shuffling through your daily existence-stop every so often, say “Good Morning,” and mean it.  Listen to those you love and hear what they are truly yearning for, and then do your best to give it to them.  It could be something as simple as a good book or a bowl of cucumbers in sour cream.

          A courteous heart is so rare.  Often, there is not enough time to do all the things we must do, and it seems, no time to consider others.  However, if you are interested in enlarging your mystic organ where true human kindness flows, learn to put yourself in another’s place, and anticipate their thoughts.  The courteous, remember, does kindness with heart.


©Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
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