“. . . clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
– Colossians 3:12
George Eliot, renowned English novelist and poet, once issued a great challenge. “What do we live for,” she asked, “if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?”
There is this elderly couple, both in their nineties, who live down the street from us. Several months ago, the poor lady fell in her yard one morning while getting the newspaper and was unable to get up. Another neighbor who happened to see the incident rushed to her aid and got her back into her house. Fortunately, except for being a little traumatized, she was not injured. Upon learning about this, my wife Tee, while on her morning walks with our dog, began to pick up the couple’s paper each morning and place it next to their front door. This routine continued for several months until all of a sudden some other anonymous, caring neighbor started doing the same thing before she got there. Now, I don’t know this for a fact, but I think it may well have been Tee’s kind act that had inspired someone else to do likewise, creating sort of a ripple effect.
In this age of instantaneous social and mainstream media, we are bombarded by a barrage of news, most of it bad, impacting millions of people – natural disasters, drugs, crime, threats of attack by terrorists and other enemies, disease, human injustice, and dysfunctions within our own political system. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I become overwhelmed by this, paralyzed from doing anything because my meager actions wouldn’t matter anyway, at least not enough to make a difference. Wrong! I can make a difference. I can do things like what my wife has done for our sweet neighbors down the street. And we never know what kind of ripple effect that might inspire; for as Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
“. . . clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” St. Paul reminds us. Or as that lovely poem by Emily Dickinson says, “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or Cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin, Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.” Indeed, “what do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?”