Faces on Faith: Small gestures done with great love
As I sit here in my safe little home up on pilings, watching the water rise in the pond, and fretting about the new leak in the roof of the parish hall, I think about the terrible situation going on with our neighbors across the Gulf in Texas. Yes, we’ve had our share of rain on the islands during the past three days, and our share of discomfort, but nothing at all like the devastated lives in the Houston area. When I heard the story of the college kid who put his boat on a trailer and drove three hours to Houston to help find people trapped in their homes, I wished I too could be of more help and take my kayak to Texas! This feeling of “not doing enough to help” happens a lot with me and I constantly remind myself that even small things can make huge changes. Challenges like the flooding in Texas and even the terrible situation with the famine in Somalia are daunting – even for the well-organized aid agencies on the ground. However, to dwell on what I can’t do simply makes things more overwhelming. Taken to its extreme, it can even result in a paralysis of effort.
Realizing we would also send a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development, which ensures money goes where it’s supposed to, I decided to also take a small and personal step as well. With a gesture of the heart and hand, I googled churches in the flooded area, knowing that they would be involved in some sort of aid to their neighborhoods. Selecting one, I emailed the pastor and said, ” St. Michael’s wants to help. What would help you most right now?” Realizing that so much of the infrastructure was compromised in the Houston area and that people might not have access to their computers, I was stunned by the reply to my email within an hour! The pastor was beyond grateful that we’d reached out to them and thanked us profusely for anything we could do – whether in the form of a financial donation or a hygiene bag of soap, toothpaste, brush, facecloth, sanitizing gel, comb and brush, etc. She added, “How loving of you in Sanibel to help us with our unexpected ministry of restoration! Blessings to you all.”
From fretting about not being able to “do more,” and heading toward a paralysis of effort, restoration possibilities were right in front of me – God’s Holy Spirit offering a way forward. I remembered Mother Teresa once saying, “In this life few of us can do great things, but we can do small things with GREAT love.”
Many of you are involved right now in doing small things with GREAT love – whether toward the devastation in Texas, the global crises, hunger in Lee County, or with the sometimes “hidden” issues of suffering right here on our island. And as you work toward restoring other lives in need, don’t forget to be mindful of the deep sense of restoration in your own heart and soul. That’s the gift we get back when we least expect it – when we reach out to others and receive more ourselves. It’s also another way to walk toward love and hope – and combat hatred. Two weeks ago Pastor Cedarleaf from the Captiva Chapel wrote in this column that “Love Wins.” Believe it, and discover ways to restore others even as you are restored.