“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” – Matthew 25:35
We were having breakfast the other morning, my beloved and I, as we always do with the newspapers spread out between us, which inevitably caused our otherwise pleasant conversation to drift toward the state of the world – all the violence, hatred, war, injustices, and political discord – and asking ourselves what in the world we, little old us, can do about it. “All I know is,” Tee replied, “I can either sit around and be woe-is-me, or I can ask myself how I can help someone today.” My jaw went slack when she shared that little pearl of wisdom. I literally froze momentarily, staring into her eyes, until I could find a scrap of paper to write down what she had just said.
It occurred to me after my wife so eloquently awakened my senses at the breakfast table, about the parable of the starfish. A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up and toss it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement. Finally, a man approached her and said, “Little girl, you can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference.” The girl reached down and picked up another starfish and hurled it back in the ocean, after which she looked up at the man and replied. “Well, I made a difference for that one.”
Ironically, this past weekend I was reading David Brooks’ column in the New York Times entitled “How to Stay Sane in Brutalizing Times.” In it Brooks asked a challenging question. “Are you a person who obsesses over how unfairly you are treated, or are you a person who is primarily concerned by how you see and treat others?” (Was David Brooks eavesdropping on our conversation the other morning, I wondered?)
Jesus tells his own version of the starfish parable. “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,” he says. But the righteous were puzzled and asked, “when did we do that?” “O, you did it alright,” He replied. “What you did for the very least, you did for me too.” So, what can we, little old us, do to help during these “brutalizing” times? I think my wife is right, we can either sit around and be woe-is-me, or we can ask ourselves how we can help someone today.