Wednesday, February 21, 2007

January: Shining Our Light II

by Troy Chapman

(published January 07)

I have a picture in my mind of thousands of babies in Bangladesh and Malawi who will soon have their little heads wrapped up in colorful caps. On Christmas Eve, Maryann found a charity knitting project at Warm Up America online and knitted caps over the holidays. Inspired, her friend Charlotte, who already does volunteer work for local children in the foster care system, got her needles out of storage and started knitting up caps, too.

A simple thing, but a light in the world that shines not only on the babies who need caps to keep their newborn heads warm, but on me and anyone else who’s inspired by it. Thanks to the people at Warm Up America for making the opportunity available.

Another great story: My cellmate’s wife, Melissa, was worried about getting their two girls’ Christmas presents last month, as a check she was waiting on was late.

She and a friend were at the checkout counter of a local store when the friend asked, “Aren’t you going to do your Christmas shopping now?” Melissa explained that the check hadn’t arrived and shared her worry about it. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do.”

That’s when a stranger in front of her turned and apologized for butting into their conversation and asked how much this late check was for.

“$600,” Melissa told the woman.

“Well, I can’t cover that,” the woman said, and began writing in her checkbook. She then handed Melissa a personal check for $200 and said, “You can send it back when you get your check.” Then she turned and walked out of the store.

Another story from our friend Richard in Oregon:

“One day, as I was getting ready to walk into the market, I noticed my eye started to wander, looking for a pretty girl, no doubt. In some amazing way, I caught myself, saw that it wasn’t good, and simply said to myself, like a prayer, ‘How can I be helpful?’ I went on into the market, and there was a commotion. A mother in her late 20s was chasing her little boy down the aisle. He was about 3 1/2, and had taken her keys. When she finally caught up with him, she said, ‘If you don't give me those keys, I’m going to be really mean!’ I was just a few feet away, and said in a kindly way, ‘You don't want to be mean!’ All activity stopped at that moment and I began talking with the little boy. He was extremely bright and attentive. We talked about things on his level. Just plain, ordinary things. And yet, in a way, the whole experience was quite remarkable. He was talking with me like a little man, calm and attentive. His mother just stood a little distance away, taking in the whole thing, with the keys back in her hand. Afterwards, I thought that perhaps the mother might have seen her son in a way she may not usually see him. A very bright, calm, special little boy, with a budding maturity. I believe this whole thing happened the way it did, simply because I was able to catch my wandering eye and wonder ‘How can I be helpful?’”

“We cannot sow seeds with clenched fists. To sow we must open our hands.” — Adolfo Perez Esquivel

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” — Helen Keller