Last updated: June 26. 2014 3:53PM - 496 Views
By Penny Cliff Guest Columnist

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My favorite people have always been kind people. Authenticity goes hand in hand with kindness. For these special folks, kindness is a way of life, not because of some ulterior motive. It’s pure, untainted. This expression is overused, but it fits: These people are “for real.” But not only are they “real,” but refreshing. There is no political agenda; just authenticity. There is no manipulation, like seen in the Netflix series House of Cards, and to a lesser extent the older political show, West Wing, which is part of my daily lunch diet (I admit; I’m hooked). This is kindness for kindness sake. The words of these people stand the test of time.

It was over almost 30 years ago. Yet, I still see her as clear as if she were standing in front of me today. Around 80, she looked after her husband, who was fast failing with Alzheimer’s disease. She was a neighbor in California who I would often visit with my two young children. I can’t remember how we met, just that while we lived on the same street; we would take the occasional stroll to go into her home to eat chocolate chip cookies with milk for one toddler and one baby in a stroller. We had such nice conversations for the short time we lived there. She was a kind, interesting lady. One day, she shared something profound: something that, during my early twenties, I couldn’t quite grasp. But that seed was buried to be fully realized years later. With the clearest forget-me-not blue eyes, she looked intently into my youthful face. “You know,” she said wistfully, “I look into the mirror and I see this old woman.” She touched her face. “But inside, I’m young. Inside, I’m not old and I wonder who that person is in the mirror. Time passes so quickly.” She spoke with such a genuine intensity, as if she were trying to convey to this young mother a truth, a reality. These visits were a long time ago. My two children are adults, and she has long since passed away. But, not her words. Of course, I’m not yet 80, but I am beginning to grasp the truth of her words: The authenticity of her words. And because of them, I grasp that time is precious.

Then there was Carolyn Wolfe. As a new Christian, she was my first Bible study teacher in California. I’ve met a lot of great teachers who are committed, kind Christians, but to this day, Carolyn holds a special place in my heart. Carolyn is one of those special people. In her warm home, we studied 1 John, and concentrated on believers love for each other. If anyone lived the Christian life, it was Carolyn. She invited us to her home, a small group of women, making sure there was childcare (for me), having snacks and coffee in this warm, welcoming, and safe environment; loving each of us. She was a talented writer, a former model and a woman who loved the Lord. I had never met anyone as kind and genuine as Carolyn. I am thankful that at the beginning of my Christian walk, she was my first teacher.

Her example and her words were life, still come back to me, travelling the decades as fresh as when they were first uttered.

Visits with an older, and wiser, neighbor, the Bible studies with a kind, genuine Bible study teacher were experiences from long ago with the authentic, the kind, and the truly special people who continue to refresh long after they are gone.

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