st francis in the gardenTwenty-some years ago, when it was new, I found the statue a bit much, towering the way it did over the roof of the little rancher and overwhelming the postage-stamp sized lawn.

I’d forgotten about St. Francis of the Tree Trunk until I drove by last spring en route to bunny Elphaba’s new vet.

It lives in one of my personal Bermuda Triangles, a vortex where I consistently run late and get lost, so it’s no surprise that, on a recent trek for Elfie’s nail trim, I glanced at the vines around the saint’s shoulders, but missed that his hands were . . . missing.

A conversation in a local Facebook group revealed that, in spite of a thick layer of shellac, this particular St. Francis finally fell victim to the the inevitable: wood decomposition, the handiwork of countless worms, slugs, and bugs.

Like so many exchanges on social media, lots of people had plenty to say about the situation.

Shame on those creeps for vandalizing that statue. Such disrespect.

We pray to St. Francis every time we see him on our way to the vet. What a shame.

Those people should take better care of it. Another example of how this neighborhood’s going to the dogs.

Like so many exchanges on social media, a truth emerged.

It wasn’t vandalized; the now-elderly homeowners simply can’t care for their yard as they once did.

Like too few exchanges on social media, a simple act of kindness was revealed.

“Cheer up!” she posted. “Was just going to let you guys see it for yourselves, but as more and more of us were saddened, and some may not ride by it but still just feel bad about it, Anyway . . . since I live so close by . . . Waved my magic wand. :)”

When asked what, in two words or fewer, positive psychology is about, Christopher Peterson, one of its founders, replied, Other people.”

St. Francis of SuburbiaShe went at twilight, to heighten the surprise, creating St. Francis 2.0, its missing appendages hidden by an enormous bouquet of flowers, affixed with clear fishing line to prevent further damage to the tree trunk.

Her simple act brought joy to dozens of folks in cyber-land, even before the homeowners themselves awoke to delight in her handiwork.

. . . scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested. Martin Seligman, Flourish

Even if she hadn’t revealed it on Facebook, her caper surely brought joy and delight to her as well.

You don’t need me to tell you about the heap-ton of trash talk and mean spirited behavior out there, my friends.

But I will leave you with an assignment, by way of Martin Seligman’s book Flourish.

Here is the exercise: find one wholly unexpected kind thing to do tomorrow and just do it. Notice what happens to your mood.

I suggest one, slight alteration, though: don’t wait until tomorrow.

Kindness: just do it.



image credits: St. Francis in the garden: pixabay, with permission; St. Francis before and after: Facebook, with permission

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