At a time when the treatment of animals used in sport is under the spotlight, and in this month when countless Australians are captivated by the ‘Race that stops the nation’, it seems appropriate to stop,  ponder and allow ourselves to be inspired by Mary MacKillop’s kindness and concern for both people and animals.

There must be gentleness towards the erring of others… Mary MacKillop 1871

“Another Sister and I were travelling with Mother Mary in Cobb and Co’s coach, which had its full complement of passengers,” one Sister recounted. “When we came to a very steep hill, Mother thought it was too much for the horses. She got out of the coach, and we did also, much against our will, as the hill was very long as well as steep, and, to make matters worse, Mother asked us to join her in saying some prayers for the driver of the coach. He was a most disagreeable man who was swearing at his horses most of the time.  Mother walked to the top of the hill in the best of spirits and provided the driver with some refreshments, as the days was very hot.”

On an ordinary, hot, Australian day, a grumpy man who swore at his horses must have been surprised to be the recipient of such a random act of kindness! “Amazing”, he probably thought, as he chewed on those unexpected refreshments. It raises the question: ‘Who deserves a good deed?’

In our imperfect lives, we all need someone to come along every so often to remind us of the love that underpins everything. Kindness sets up many ripples, and that’s why it is the greatest wisdom.

…Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you give will be the measure you get back.Luke 6:38

The above is an extract from The Little Brown Book Too (pages 48-49)

© Sue and Leo Kane 2011

Used with the kind permission of the publishers, St Paul’s Publications

Available online and from some Mary MacKillop Centres.

Download the print version of this reflection (PDF)

Image: Jiawei Shen, who has written:
I have used a pure realist style to portray a scene of Mary MacKillop travelling around Australia by Cobb and Co coach in the 1880s. I based my work on comments by Mary’s biographers about how she never stayed in the one place long, travelling vast distances between Josephite  establishments over rough roads in uncomfortable coaches.
Obtained from: Mary MacKillop: A Tribute © Honeysett Press,  NSW 1995, page 70