Yesterday I spent the day with my sister and her sons as we gathered to celebrate the life of my brother-in-law Kent. The visitation was scheduled to begin at noon, but long before that hour, friends and family members were lined up to pay their respects and share their memories with his family.
For three hours the line snaked out the door, and my sister’s family stood tirelessly, greeting the well wishers with warmth and love. As I watched the scene, I thought of the Biblical admonition that we reap what we sow. The outpouring of love, respect, and gratitude from his many friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family members was a testament to how much Kent had given to others in his too short life.
So many of us live our lives turned inward, protecting ourselves and our possessions, feeding our own egos and needs. We fear giving too much away, and consequently, we never live life to its fullest. Kent was the opposite. He thought of others first, always striving to include people, taking an interest in their lives, nurturing his relationship with his family and friends every step of the way. As a result, his life was joyous and filled with love, and the outpouring of memories yesterday’s mourners shared with my sister revealed a man bursting with life and enthusiasm.
It is so easy to live life in judgment of others. We nurse grudges and vow revenge on those who slight us. We recite a litany of the ways we have been wronged and live in bitterness. Kent’s life teaches me to let karma take care of the mean, the selfish, and the spiteful people in our lives.
My sister told me that Kent thought of mean-spirited people as disabled. Instead of writing them off or treating them in kind, he treated them with compassion, recognizing their emotional deficits but choosing to love instead of hate. His reward was that he was loved with extravagance by countless people, both personally and professionally.
Kent’s legacy lives on in so many ways: in his three fine sons, in his loving wife, in the professional accolades he was always too modest to brag about. His name even graces the educational policy center he helped create. Most importantly, his memory lives on in the hearts of his friends and family.
Now that’s karma.