“. . . 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?”
A lovely couple, both in their nineties, lived down the street from us for the longest time, until they both passed away. One morning the poor lady fell in her yard while getting the newspaper and was unable to get up. Another neighbor happened to see the incident and rushed to her aid getting her back on her feet and safely into her house. Fortunately, except for being a little traumatized, she was not injured. Upon learning about this, my wife Tee, while on her early morning walks with our dog, began to pick up the couple’s paper and place it next to their front door. This routine continued for several months until another caring neighbor picked up on the same idea, often beating her to it. Now, I don’t know this for a fact, but I think it may well have been Tee’s kind act that had inspired the other neighbor 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 – most notably a world-wide pandemic, drugs, crime, threats of terrorist attacks, human injustice, racism, and dysfunctions within our political system. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I become overwhelmed by this, paralyzed from doing anything because my meager actions don’t seem to matter anyway, at least not enough to make a difference. Wrong! I can make a difference. I can do things like what my wife did 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?”