Walking on the Sunny Side

For a number of years, I served a church in Winona MN, named after one of their first pastors, Dr. William McKinley. The church still had a handful of people who remembered stories parents had told them about him.   He was so beloved by that earlier generation, the congregation had changed the name of the church to honor him.

Tucked away, in some of the historical information at the church, was a booklet describing Dr. McKinley’s life, along with passages from his writings.  Reading the story of his  life, and his words, I came to understand why he was so loved. 

He talked about trying to be “on the sunny side” of people.  He wrote,  “The more I know of (people) and God, and myself, the more I am persuaded that people generally need appreciation and recognition more than they need criticism. If I must choose sides, I prefer the best side. On a cold day I always take the sunny side of the street; and in this cold world I can get more comfort for myself and can do more good for my neighbors by getting on the sunny side of them.”

Then he quoted Alexander Pope’s prayer poem,

“Teach me to feel another’s woe,
To hide the fault I see;
The mercy I to other show,
That mercy show to me.”

He finished by saying,  “We get what we give, and the longer I live the more I see that the best thing in life is the “love which suffers long and is kind, which envieth not, which vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, is not easily provoked and thinketh no evil.” I Corinthians 13:4

In our world where division and hostility grow among neighbors, family and old friends . . . There is something to be said, about getting on the “sunny side” of each other . . . Looking for the best, expressing appreciation and putting love first.