Jesus Christ did not always answer a question about life with a religious answer. When they asked him big questions about kingdoms and religions he often pointed them to smaller and more approachable matters like helping one individual at a time. In fact Christ was constantly steering his disciples away from big earth shaking type questions. He pointed them back to the least common denominators such as love, kindness and faithfulness over the smallest responsibilities. He was less concerned with the macrocosmic than the microcosmic solutions to problems in our world.
Here are a couple of examples that show how Christ called for people to re-focus on the smaller everyday matters of life. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. Mt 10; 42 another example would be, He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much…Lu16; 10.
Anyone who has ever seen an authentic Chinese tapestry has stood in awe of the sprawling colors and designs that spread out to make a picture that dazzles the senses. A few people may take the time to get up close to the tapestry and view some of the millions of tiny stitches that go into creating the whole picture. The tapestry is more than the sum of its parts but never less than each and every single stitch.
Every person is capable of making at least one stitch with their lives. In America and other parts of our world today people who have succeeded in life are beginning to examine other areas to contribute something of value. People who have made their fortunes and have everything they have ever desired are now looking for something else to fulfill them. In almost every case the answer is being found in something outside of themselves and their own private lives and affairs. Many people are now becoming volunteers, campaigners or are joining churches and groups that contribute to individuals or communities. Giving contributions of millions of dollars is giving way to giving contributions of themselves and their time, usually to one person at a time or small groups of people less fortunate than others.
Even men notice when a small deed is performed in a timely fashion. Howard Hughes, the worlds most noted billionaire, searched an entire western community to find one man who had given him a mere twenty five cents as Hughes traveled through the region without money or means. The man was rewarded by Hughes by being included in his final will with a gift that reportedly was in the millions of dollars. If men notice such deeds then don’t worry Providence is keeping the perfect record.
It is the fine almost golden threads that make up life’s expansive tapestry. Often the good done by these golden threads is just a few well timed and well placed words of kindness. Yet, there are many who say they don’t know how they could possibly know what to say, or how to say something to help others. It is probably more a matter of instinct than of intelligence. The longest diary in the world, four million words, is said to belong to the late Arthur C Benson; 24, April 1862 -17 June 1925 poet and associate of England’s College of Cambridge University. Known as a man of many words, Mr. Benson was best known for his admonition for using the fewest words when addressing human suffering or sorrow. He was a strong proponent of trusting the gut when it came to finding the right words for the right moment. He said, “I don’t think some decisions are made by the reasoning faculties, but by some instinct. One knows what one can do and what one cannot do, when the time arrives.”
Sometimes not even words may be required to lend a helping hand. Sharing other peoples feelings silently can be useful. This is the essence of empathy, which is feeling along with another so they are attended or not so alone in their grief, calamity or sorrow. A New Orleans man once told me a story about one of his friends who had suddenly lost his beloved wife of many years. He arrived at hospital moments after his friend got the news that his wife had passed away. He found his friend leaning against the waiting room wall and convulsing and weeping with overwhelming sorrow. Not knowing either what to do or say he instinctively responded by leaning on the same wall and crying along with his friend. Weeks later he met with his friend again and the first words he heard were, “Thank you for being there for me you will never know how much you helped me.”
I had to take a short ride to town between writing this paragraph and the one before it. Sauntering back down the country road to the house I pondered what I would use as an example of a small thread of kindness. Suddenly I was waved down by a woman who seemed to be in some kind of distress. Across the road I noticed a very young man struggling to jack up his car and change a flat tire. She asked if I had a four way wrench because the one the young man, her son, was using didn’t fit. I brought him my four way wrench and a hydraulic jack I was carrying in my car and mother and son were back on the road in a matter of minutes.
Naturally I thought this is an example of the small threads I was trying to write about. I dismissed it out of hand because, I reasoned, it is too insignificant. It was the word insignificant that caught my attention. Yes, it was no big deal but it was after all the very kind of small thing that makes up the big picture.
Of the many genres of music that I love one is old fashioned Appalachian mountain bluegrass. After helping that young men and his mother, the chorus of one of my favorite bluegrass gospel songs entitled “By the Side of the Road” popped into my head. Let me pop it out here for you to roll around in your head. I think it is what could help the world to be a better place in a very real and practical way.
I’d rather live, by the side of the road
And try to point souls, to the blest abode
Than to be a king, or a millionaire
And live in a mansion, in bright array
I’d rather do, a neighborly deed
For a traveler here, or a friend in need
I’d rather live, by the side of the road
And help some pilgrim along life’s way
Rev Bresciani has authored several books and many articles both online and in print. Over a quarter of a million readers have enjoyed his articles of hope, inspiration, practical living, politics and much more. Please visit his website at http://americanprophet.org
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