Oct 24, 2018

Intentional Acts of Kindness – Encore

Old blog posts, once written, become a ‘thought mining resource’ for me. I might be looking for some reference I made to a particular subject or person. . .perhaps an author whose voice struck me as important to echo or amplify.

Today, I was rereading old posts and came across this one. It has been one year since I wrote it, and almost two years since the death of our former Board Member and 4th Board President, Christine McKenna. I actually burst into tears, partly because my wife Marcia and I still miss Christine, but also because I remain so touched by her generosity.

With your permission, I’d like to send it out again over the ether space. If you missed it the first time, please read about Christine. If you saw it when we originally published it, may I respectfully encourage you to read it again. Oh, and do please ‘take 5’ to listen to the Bach.

Random acts of kindness are indeed wonderful events. You know the situation. . .you get up to the register in the restaurant to pay your bill and the cashier, gesturing, says: “A person who was sitting over there paid your tab already.” “What!” you exclaim. But before you can find the individual – they’re gone.

You may be thinking: “Wow, this has never happened to me.” If it is that you have not been the recipient of a random act of kindness, think about how happy someone else would be to find that – unbeknownst to him or her – you had noticed that a parking meter had expired, and put in some extra coins – sparing the anonymous owner of the vehicle a parking ticket! They would never see you to thank you, but you would feel great for the remainder of the day. If you’ve never performed a random act of kindness for a stranger. . .try it on for size. You may find it feels so good, you decide to make this practice a regular occurrence in your life.

Now, think about intentional acts of kindness bestowed on people you know: telephone calls to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to a friend or relative, or giving the last bite of your favorite cake to your spouse. You can relate, right? Some individuals take this practice to a high level.

Such was the case with Christine McKenna, a Trustee from the early years of the founding of our orchestra who became the fourth President of our Board. Christine and her husband Edward were big-time classical music lovers. They even had a vacation home near Tanglewood in the Berkshires so that they could avail themselves of all those wonderful summer Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts.

After Christine’s Board tenure ended, she and Ed continued to be regular attendees of our programs, were patrons of our Annual Viennese Ball, and listened intently – offering wisdom along the way – as we worked though the challenging transition from Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey to The Discovery Orchestra. They became enthusiastic fans of ‘the discovery listening process’ and were in the audience for the recording of two of our productions for American Public Television.

When Ed died after a long battle with cancer in the spring of 2015, we were concerned for Christine and how she would manage. Amazingly, although dealing with her own cancer diagnosis and treatments, she carried on – nurturing her relationship with a favorite nephew, volunteering in a variety of non-profit settings and coming to our concerts. . .among many other activities.

When cancer claimed Christine in February 2017, we began to learn that the intentional acts of kindness for which Edward and Christine McKenna had been known and loved during their lives would continue long after their deaths. Among the bequests of their estate, a permanent scholarship at St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, and among Christine’s final wishes, an exceedingly generous six-figure gift to The Discovery Orchestra.

We are so very grateful to Christine McKenna. The music that comes to mind that captures their generous spirits is the Air from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major. Take five minutes to meditate on the beauty of both random and intentional acts of kindness as you listen.