Every year in the spring…the eighth grade English and Social Studies classes, at my school, timed the study of the World World II unit with the reading of the Diary of Anne Frank. It was a powerful integrated unit of study. Posters depicting war scenes, the homefront, and the Holocaust decked the hall walls between both sets of classes and curriculums.
It never failed that I would be walking down the hall, one day, each spring and hear the wail of the police car brakes screeching to an abrupt stop coming from the televisions in the English classes…the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family/friends had been discovered.They were being arrested. The sound of those sirens sent chills down my back and still do. I knew the movie was almost over for the English classes for another year…but the feelings would last forever.
Always at the end of the movie you could hear Anne’s voice above the sirens’ wail repeating the most famous quote from her journal.
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
What wisdom at such a young age! It has taken me a lifetime to get there. It wasn’t until my adolescence that it finally dawned on me imaginary monsters under the bed or in the closets weren’t the scary things in life…it was other humans that brought terror, destruction, and misery to mankind. Yet humanity is, also, capable of so much more…we are capable of unconditional love and ultimate sacrifice. We see demonstrations of this every day via media or simply through daily observations.
In Ordinary Grace a little boy is killed by a train while sitting on the tracks daydreaming…a senseless loss of life it appears from afar…but yet during his short life…he brought a special goodness to the town.
“Bobby had a secret. You know what it was? It took nothing to make him happy. That was it. He held happiness in his hand easy as if he’d just, I don’t know, plucked a blade of grass from the ground. And all he did his whole short life was offer that happiness to anybody who’d smile at him. That’s all he wanted from me. From you. From anybody. A smile.” William Krueger, Ordinary Grace
I think perhaps there should be another Beatitude…”Blessed are they who give love and smiles away…every single day; their goodness spills over the earth flourishing it until every single person blossoms into the best he or she can be.”
Last week I didn’t have to look far to see the good in people. The light shone on my ole’ college room-mate and life long friend….Brooke. It was time for their annual Presbyterian Hands of Christ back-to-school supply program. It is massive, to say the least, in the planning stages…Brooke and a close church friend have been heading it up for years now.
This hands-on initiative supplies back-to-school outfits and/or uniforms, school supplies, socks, underwear to children in need. Brooke’s church provides for all eligible families in Colleton County. A gigantic undertaking.
Unexpectedly Brooke’s right-hand co-director lost her husband a week before the big date. It was devastating for Brooke, her friend, and the church community…he was quite loved by all who knew him. Another congregational member generously and graciously volunteered to help Brooke … but she had never headed up Hands of Christ before so much of the “grit work” would fall back on Brooke to pull this event together… in a week.
Brooke went before the church and told them they needed volunteers desperately…“If you are walking down the street and see someone you don’t know…please drag them over here next Friday and Saturday when you come.” It brought laughs but also provided the reality of what it was going to take to pull this wonderful giving endeavor together…a miracle of sorts!
The early part of the week was spent dropping leaflets off throughout Colleton County and gathering supplies for the big event. I sent Brooke a note card that talked of everyday miracles and I told her I felt deep down in my heart that she was going to witness just that …an “ordinary miracle” gone extraordinary.
The text came Saturday evening….”HANDS of CHRIST WAS A HUGE SUCCESS SERVING 307 children! Miracles do happen. I went from 17 volunteers last Sunday to 90 today! AMAZING Boo, miracles do happen. My heart is FULL!”
Brooke said they opened the event by holding hands, and pouring water over them while repeating the famous quote by St. Teresa of Avila.
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
So until tomorrow…if we wake up each day feeling blessed for simply being alive and not stressed about something in the day ahead…if we expect and look for goodness in people we will find it. We will also find the opposite, meanness, if we spend our days looking for that. Good and evil exist side by side…it is up to us to choose which path we go down…each and every day.
“If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you!”
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
* Yesterday I got my lab work done first thing in the morning and then headed to Mt. Pleasant because Mandy discovered she needed to get another round of lab work done, also, and she wanted to get it done before the family leaves for Disney World tomorrow morning…the last mini-vacation before school starts back.
So as soon as I finished mine…I headed to Mt. P to keep the children while Mandy went to get her lab work done. Mandy had also made an appointment to get both Jake’s and Eva Cate’s hair cut…and oh, poor Jakie…he was already screaming “NO” in fear before we left the house…the signs didn’t look good…but “good” arrived in the nick of time.
Jakie’s little eyes were already red from sniffling before we left the house. Kicking and screaming the “miracle worker” hair-cutter remained calm, got him an ice-cee and talked to him slowly and quietly…it was like he was mesmerized by the sound of her voice. It took about 60 seconds for him to miraculously calm down…sit perfectly still, hold on to “Night Night” (his blankie) and finally look in the mirror. So cute!
Eva Cate, of course, loves getting her hair fixed and the “miracle worker” braided her hair in about three minutes while she was blow drying it…this lovely, sweet woman is GOOD!
Lily, Eva Cate’s best friend, came over for a swim so Eva Cate got to show off her new look.
Everyone was in smiles by the time I left…we all had some ‘intimidating challenges’ but collectively we discovered the day is defined by the number of good people there are for us when we need them in less than desirable situations.