A light gone out in a darkened world

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.~Dalai Lama

…as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.Matthew 25:40

Saturday morning, I awoke to find myself with several tasks and very little time to do them. The most pressing, in my mind, was the removal of leaves from our yard. I was expecting heavy rain on Sunday and I did not want to deal with both the clogged street gutter and pounds of wet tree debris. So I hustled on out into the brisk morning and found the task not all that tiresome, but still time-consuming. Regardless, the point of this post is not to bore you with ordinary yard work, but to relate a life lesson…at least for me.Extinguished candle

About halfway through my task, I noticed a young woman and, presumably, her son walking down our street. Now, our street is not situated to invite a lot of foot traffic, unless of course you live in the neighborhood. And another odd thing was that they eschewed the sidewalk, preferring to saunter down the middle of the road. I continued in my raking and bagging until the woman approached me to ask for directions. In an effort to assist her I asked her where she was going and the address was rather far away still I proceeded to give her the best directions that I could. She said thank you and walked away, child in tow. I watched them walk away and wrestled heavily with the thought of calling out for them to stop, offering to take them in my car to their destination given the lengthy distance to their destination. Several times I put my rake down only to stifle my own good nature and resume raking. This moment has haunted me for three days now and I still wish that I had done more than just provide directions.

Several people have weighed in with their own concerns ranging from my personal safety, to the thought that I will one day be presented with a similar opportunity and will have knowledge to make that decision, to the lady and her child preferred the exercise. All of these are valid points, some having more bearing than others on my conscience. Yet, I still can’t get the image of those two people walking away slowly, probably desperately looking for someone to help and directions was all that I offered. I still consider it to be a lost opportunity to be a light in a dark world and I probably won’t soon forget that experience.

I’d be interested in other opinions, but I don’t expect that any of them will change my feelings on the experience. They will merely assist in, hopefully, softening the devastation I felt at not being a compassionate human being; to fail at the most basic level of kindness.

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4 thoughts on “A light gone out in a darkened world

  1. This is something I, too, would think about for days afterward. I would have reacted the same way you did. I tend to believe in the goodness of people, but my fear of being proven wrong sometimes overtakes me.

    Perhaps, if you live in the “city” area (and I guess I really mean, downtown) you may have offered to call and pay for a taxi for them. It’s unlikely that they’d accept, but it would be something to offer, next time.

  2. I’ve been in similiar situations where I could’ve done more or looked the other way, etc. and have been haunted by my choice of indifference.

    However, there have been many other situations where I’ve done very little and then later found out the positive impact I really had (unintentionally) on someone. Go me!

    Maybe that day was not yours to speak up and offer more of yourself. But you will have that chance again with someone else.

    So the lesson here is that those people are on your heart and its making you think and you will always speak up and offer help in what ever way you can. The whole thing is very “everything happens for a reason”.

  3. I’ve been in similiar situations where I could’ve done more or looked the other way, etc. and have been haunted by my choice of indifference.

    However, there have been many other situations where I’ve done very little and then later found out the positive impact I really had (unintentionally) on someone. Go me!

    Maybe that day was not yours to speak up and offer more of yourself. But you will have that chance again with someone else.

    So the lesson here is that those people are on your heart and its making you think and you will always speak up and offer help in what ever way you can. The whole thing is very “everything happens for a reason”.

  4. Scenerio 1:

    A security guard at a place I use to work decided to buy a homeless man, who was pan-handling outside with a sign “Need Help…”, a fresh new sandwich to eat. The man scoffed and said, “What am I going to do with that!? I need money!”

    Scenerio 2:

    John and I volunteered for Clothe-A-Child one December and took 3 siblings shopping. Afterwards, we took them to breakfast. Our waitress was rude and slow. No tip for her! But then, as we were paying our bill, she asked us quietly, “Are they in a special program?” I guess the fact that they were African-American, I was Caucasian, and John, Filipino, she knew something was up. So when we told her about Clothe-A-Child she reached into her apron and pulled out $100 and told us to go buy them some Christmas toys – It about took my breathe away and still brings a tear to my eye when I think of her generosity and our ignorance to judge.

    More importantly, I remember how excited and full of pure joy those kids were to be able to go shopping and pick out toys they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to get. One even wanted to share his money for a toy for his baby sister at home.

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