Friday, January 24, 2014

The Greater Good

I recently put up a quote from St. Theophan the Recluse on a board:
Do whatever falls to your hands, in your circle and in your situation--and believe that this is and will be your true work; nothing more from you is expected. It is a great error to think that you must undertake important and great labors, whether for heaven, or as the progressives think, in order to make one's contribution to humanity. That is not necessary at all. It is necessary only to do everything in accordance with the Lord's commandments. Just exactly what is to be done? Nothing in particular, just that which presents itself to each one according to the circumstances of his life, and which is demanded by the individual events with which each of us meets.
I've been thinking about it a lot lately. It comes from The Spiritual Life: And How to Be Attuned to It, which also includes a little rant about "progressives". The saint knew of some women who worked in publishing, thinking they were contributing to the greater good ... meanwhile, their mothers went hungry. It's just about what's closest to you--that's where the need for help lies.

I've always had illusions of grandeur: I've always wanted to do something great in this huge world, whether it was mission work, volunteering abroad, working with the homeless in Dallas when we lived closer to the city, adopting internationally and special needs children, whatever. It's probably just my mental illness, and yet I hope we've all had the desire to do some good in this world. I used to pray for God to send me someone to help take care of when I already had someone in my life who needed me. The problem was that she was (and still is) a rather intense and difficult person to deal with--I guess I wanted an angel in disguise. Now I call her every Sunday and help her deal with the reality of having her food stamps taken away. And it's hard, and sometimes it doesn't feel especially rewarding. But this is a human who needs help, not a hobby.

Anyway, yesterday I accompanied the church homeschool group to a nursing home a few blocks from one mother's house. I was playing photographer, and the children sang songs and then milled about with the people who'd come to listen. Much to my surprise, I worked up the bravery to talk to people the children were missing. I readily admit that I'm not as much fun to talk to as the adorable kinderfolk, but hey, I'm here. And I got some good pictures for posterity's sake. I'd post some here, but I don't have the parents' permission, and I prefer to err on the side of caution. But just think: It was local, lonely people got some visitors, the children learned a little empathy, so on and so forth. It's a good thing. And it got me out of the house for a change. Also good.

I hate to use the cliche, "Think globally, act locally," but do.

Now I have to decide if I'm going to go back to sleep or knit. Choices, choices.

1 comment:

LSB said...

Good job! Loved seeing the photos on Facebook. Keep on keeping on . . .