Of courtesy

Strolling past Poseidon on the boardwalk, Virginia Beach, September 2013.

Strolling past Poseidon on the boardwalk, Virginia Beach, September 2013.

Of Courtesy, it is much less
Than Courage of Heart or Holiness,
Yet in my Walks it seems to me
That the Grace of God is in Courtesy.

 – Hilaire Beloc

On a beautiful September day not long ago, Jeff and I enjoyed a few hours on the boardwalk at Virginia Beach.  As we strolled along I noticed an elderly man ahead of us, taking in the sunshine and cooling breeze with the help of his attendant, who walked beside him with patience and kindness.  I was happy to see this gentleman able to be out and about on such a beautiful day.

Bikes whizzed past and children played, but all were mindful of each other, sharing the space with the sort of collective joy made manifest in such agreeable surroundings.  It was not unlike the neighborly accord I experience on my daily walks.

It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that great and courageous deeds are needed to make the world a better place, and of course they are.  But they are perhaps less pervasive — and maybe even less needed — than simple, common courtesy.  How often has your day been made more happy (or less) by the cordial (or rude) behavior of a stranger?  Don’t you love it when people you’ve never seen smile and greet you?  Courtesy may not be the flashiest or most obvious way to demonstrate our understanding of grace, but it carries the potential to change the world, one person at a time.

I wish you a day filled with courtesy, flowing in grace, to you and from you!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Julia, So true.
    The simplest things are often most impressionable and lasting.
    When I was still driving I’d from time to time get a cup of coffee at a drive up window. And if there was someone placing an order behind me I’d ask the window server to put that person’s order on my bill. I believe that little act of kindness might just make a person’s day. Even if it simply provided a topic of discussion at his/hers dinner table that night.
    p.s. I just reprised my blog from years ago “Of Truth and Reality.” I remembered you said “The Man of La Mancha,” was one of your dad’s favorites. It was the blog that you commented on that introduced us both.

    • Hi Alan, it’s always such a joy to hear from you. I remember that blog post well, and meeting you through it! Yes, Don Quixote was a favorite of my father’s. In fact, to share something highly personal: when I first saw his body in the casket at the funeral home, almost involuntarily I said (through tears) “Oh, Alonso Quijano.” Or in the words of Aldonza: “Don Quixote lives!” Re: your practice of buying coffee for the person behind you: I can guarantee it changed that person’s day, and probably had ripple effects throughout that day, as such kindnesses often do. Nearly 20 years after someone paid my toll at the Oakland Bay Bridge into San Francisco, I remember it vividly. In fact, it happened on two different occasions. Such an unexpected grace. Thanks for being here, and for sharing the memories! Just yesterday I was showing my sister your autobiography, and telling her about your comments on Halloween and how it was a neighborhood holiday.

      • Thanks so much my friend.
        “Oh, Alonso Quijano.” These three words carry with them a great profoundness. And at a time in a world when we seem to have lost all perspective and appreciation for each individual’s lives, hopes and dreams. “The Quest.”
        Those who seek power are unable or unwilling to acknowledge from whence it comes. Pilate was told, but was too jaded by the world he lived in to understand.
        – Alan

        • Thanks Alan. Having zero power myself, I can’t speak from experience, but I wonder whether seeking power ALWAYS involves compromise in one way or another, often in many ways? The history of political struggle since time began surely does suggest that to me. Sometimes, as with Moses or Esther, people have power handed to them almost against their will, but I suspect that most who end up with power have sought it aggressively. Jesus is a stark exception to this, and of course, as he told us plainly, his kingdom never was of this world, and his power was willingly set aside in the most extreme circumstances. Always much food for thought in your comments. Take care of yourself and enjoy what remains of this beautiful autumn.

          • As I look out my window I can see that the leaves have left the trees and with them another autumn has passed. One last thought on power: you have more than you know. For our true and lasting power is in faith: “F”ound “A”lways “I”n “T”hy “H”ands.
            as always:

            • Alan, I’ve never heard that particular acronym, but it’s wonderful. Yes, faith is how we survive. And some days, it feels like the only solid thing in life. So happy for your friendship and fellowship.

              • Julia, I treasure our friendship too! As regards the acronym, it may be originally mine, of course inspired by the Holy Spirit. I ended my autobiography “The Little Red Chair” with it.

                • Alan, I didn’t remember that being in there, so I went back and looked for it…still couldn’t find it! Do you know what page it is on?

                  • The very last page, Jules. Not the book of poems.

                    • Alan, maybe I have a newer (or older) edition…I STILL couldn’t find it! Unless it was implied, not explicit. Of course, that theme runs through the entire book. I need to go back and re-read it. Hope you had a wonderful holiday in “the quiet corner.” Since COVID, my home is also a “quiet corner,” which is not altogether a bad thing! 😀

                    • Thanksgiving was good. Small family get together. Hope yours was good as well. On to Advent!

                    • Alan, that’s the spirit! “Let every heart prepare him room.”

                    • Amen!

      • Thanks Jules for the kind words and sharing your adventures. Love them.

  2. mike c.

    Looks like a beautiful walk. Hope to visit one day. did you ever make it up to Dollywood/ Pigeon forge area.

    • Mike, I have been to Pigeon Forge, but not to Dollywood. I just love Dolly, but I’m not much of an amusement park fan, although Disney is an exception to that because I am a huge fan of both Disney World and Disneyland. I think Dolly has a Pirate show now and all sorts of other entertainment venues as well.

  3. mike c.

    My son got us a day pass to Dollywood for Xmas so it is on my Georgia list of to do’s.Dolly is pretty amazing and i think underrated and she has written some pretty great songs. She has a new flick on Netflix which is based on four? of her favorite tunes. Her self deprecating humor on her body etc. is also a treat. It seems like she would be fun to go to lunch with.
    It is fixin to storm now in Cherokee county.

    • See Mike, even just thinking about Dolly has you picking up her Southern accent. I don’t know what she’s up to right now but I’m sure she’s fixing to do something new this very minute. Here is one of my favorite Dolly Parton quotes, which sums up her appeal to a T: “Dumb blonde jokes don’t bother me, because I know I’m not dumb. I’m not blonde, either.” Another one I like: “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” And finally, a hilarious answer to an interview question: “Dolly, how long does it take to do your hair?” “I don’t know, I’m never there.” 😀

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