by April Terry (personal blog http://faithwarming.blogspot.com)
“Sunday Morning” program had a segment about an 83-year-old nurse on Block Island, Rhode Island who is the perfect example of a great neighbor. On the island during the tourist season, Block Island is a busy, bustling community, but during the off-season, folks really struggle. Mary Donnelly, has been nursing the people of her community for the last 52 years making home visits and working in the clinic, but during the off-season, finances get difficult for some of the folks on the island and so Mary also started a fund to help people who are behind on their bills, people who are danger of having their electricity or gas turned off, people with medical bills they can’t pay. It was a wonderful story of how one woman, even at the age of 83, could make a difference in the lives of the members of her community. Without her, there would definitely be a great empty spot in her community.
When I think about inspirational stories such as this, it’s easy to think that people like Mary must have some special drive or ambition wired inside that gives them the desire to do this. I think it’s just that they are willing. They are willing and they aren’t blind to the needs of those within their community. It’s easy to go through our lives with blinders on that keep us from being aware of the need that surrounds us. People like Mary will often argue that they aren’t saints. In fact, Mary wouldn’t like it if you called her a saint. She hates that. Most of the bills that she pays come from people who donate to a special fund that she put together for the purpose of helping those who are in need. Mary has just been willing to do it for the last 52 years in addition to the duties she performs as a visiting nurse.
One of the things we talk about here in DE land is a virtue called “noticing.” Noticing is more than just looking around, but rather it’s a way of living that makes us hyper-aware of who is in our peripheral and of our own impact in the lives of others. Let’s face it, in life we have a choice to either be a positive influence in the lives of others or we can be a negative influence. If we decide to be a positive influence then we have to be aware of those who are around us and their needs as well. We have to notice, and then, if we notice, we have to be willing to be that positive influence in whatever way we are needed. We have to be willing.
It’s not something that is forced or uncomfortable, but rather it is the most comfortable thing in the world. It sometimes seems like it is going to be something very difficult, but it really isn’t. I think that’s the truth that Mary knows and that is the reason she doesn’t like to be called a saint. It doesn’t take a saint to do what Mary does. It just takes a single, ordinary person who is willing to see it and willing to do it, and look at the difference that one person can make.
My mom used to say that many hands make light work, but I have noticed that one willing pair of hands can change a community. I’m sure that’s what Jesus meant when he told us to be salt and light, to be a city on a hill that shines out into the darkness. Don’t wait until you’re a saint to start seeing the need, and if you see it, God must want you to do something about it. Maybe one day it is just a prayer, but maybe another day it leads you down a path like Mary’s path. A path where it feels as if Jesus is whispering “Follow me” over and over and over again.
October 17th, 2011 · No Comments
Categories: DE Thoughts
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