Apologies to Adele and my grade-school grammar teacher (pop artists aren’t much on predicate nominatives). After saying goodbye a few months ago to my regular monthly column, I am back in a quarterly rotation with some admired colleagues.

What have I missed? The opportunity to write about the spiritual significance of unfettered access to guns after Uvalde; Southern Baptists facing up to a legacy of institutional coverups of sexual abuse; Jan. 6 Congressional hearings; the Russian invasion of Ukraine; stock market swooning and inflation ballooning; COVID-19 hanging around like an old boyfriend: Nothing much, huh?

Let’s take a summer break. 

Bad news has a way of dominating our dispositions. We get cranky with ourselves and one another when it seems the world is cracking apart. But the goodness of God shines through like a shaft of light through a dark cloud. We see it in the small acts of kindness of good people.

Like the young couple who found a wallet while strolling through the Water Gardens in Fort Worth a few months ago. Yours truly had absentmindedly left it on one of the concrete steps under a tree. The sinking feeling of reaching for my wallet at a restaurant and finding an empty pocket led to my rushing back to the spot and finding it gone. After canceling credit cards and applying for a replacement drivers license and insurance cards, I settled in to days of beating up on myself for my stupidity.

Then out of the blue, a call came to the church that someone had found my wallet. They had sleuthed the Internet and figured out who I was. I drove to Fort Worth and recovered the wallet with more cash in it than I knew I had. After paying a hefty reward that was received with embarrassed gratitude, my faith in humanity was restored along with my valuables.

In this summer of our discontent, I am reminded that goodness can still be found among us. I don’t know whether the young couple was informed by a faith tradition or was simply acting out of shared sense of humanity. But either way, this is what keeps hope alive when we think all is lost in our striving for self-interest. Neighbors I didn’t know cared for someone they didn’t know as if it had happened to them. 

Our community and our country depend on acts of virtue. People looking out for one another as if everything depends upon our actions. When we despair for the state of the world and worry that we can’t count on anyone but ourselves, a simple gesture of kindness changes everything.

What if we could imagine the consequences of every vote and every political decision on people we don’t know before we act? How would it change our city, our state and our country if we followed the example of a young couple like them? 

The ties that bind us would never be broken.