Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. – Dr. Seuss
Opportunities to help one other appear every day. We either acknowledge them, or we don’t.
During a recent trip to Minneapolis, my family and I visited The Basilica of Saint Mary. The Basilica’s beauty is matched only by its reverence. The white granite exterior welcomed us as we opened the massive wooden door to enter. Once inside, its architecture was simply amazing. Long rows of pews lead to an altar perfectly positioned under a stunning copper dome.
In one those pews was a man, alone and seemingly distraught. Sitting on the edge of the wooden bench, he grasped the pew in front on him. He buried his head between his hands and appeared to be praying.
I walked by him on my way to get a better look at the altar. Stopping for a moment, I considered sitting next to him. He was clearly in pain and maybe I could offer some relief. Instead, I continued to the altar. He wanted to be alone, I reasoned. But I knew better. He needed some comfort and I didn’t help.
After returning to the back of the church, I waited for Mary Beth to light a candle in memory of her father. When she finished, we stood together and admired the church. That’s when I noticed someone had taken the spot next to the grieving man.
I rationalized he was probably a priest, or a trained layperson who was on staff to help with these situations. But really, I think he was someone who made a choice different than mine – he made the choice to help.
At that moment, I re-committed to listening to my inner wisdom and offering to help when I know it’s needed – no matter how uncertain or inconvenient it may seem. God gives us special radar to use. When we pay attention to the readings our radars provide, we will know if our help is needed, or not.
So my question, my challenge, to you is, “When someone needs help, will you help, too?”
- Will you help the hungry by offering whatever you can?
Will you help when earthquakes hit and hurricanes strike?
Will you help by being a companion to the lonely?
Will you help lift the burdens others cannot seem to lift alone?
Will you help by offering encouragement when it is needed?
Will you help by providing the right answer at the right time?
Will you help by showing compassion when mistakes are made?
Will you help by saying what someone needs to hear?
Will you help when someone asks for help whether they say the words, or not?
The Starfish Story
Your choice to help – one person at a time – does make a difference. The Starfish Story illustrates the power one simple action can have:
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.” – Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)
I regret not being a starfish thrower the day I visited The Basilica of Saint Mary. In that Holy place, I felt His nudge and forgiveness. I left Minneapolis and returned home looking for starfish who need my help. When I find them, I will do my best against the receding tides.
I can’t do it alone. Will you help, too?