We are planting a seed.
As Rabbi Harold Kushner mentioned in When Everything You Always Wanted Isn’t Enough, the ancient rabbis taught that every man should accomplish three things: have a son, write a book, and plant a tree. The reason is obvious: those are the kinds of things that can live on and bless the world after the man is gone. Those things are his legacy.
But the man may not see the result of that legacy during his lifetime. So it is when a gardener plants a seed. She could move away or pass away, and never see the seed germinate, sprout, and grow. But she still plants the seed.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
― John Bunyan
Recently, one of the people that Brighten the Corner ministers to downtown asked me, “How can you keep coming out here week after week, and you don’t necessarily see a difference?” The answer is, we are planting a seed. We may not personally be around to see when it germinates, sprouts, and grows.
And not all seeds will necessarily grow. But we still water them. We still enrich the soil. We do our part. Or to put it another way, we brighten the corner where we are. One little candle can provide a surprising amount of light when you are in the darkness. And if you’ve heard of the Butterfly Effect, you know that a small act can eventually cause a large result. To see what we mean, we invite you to watch the movie “2nd Greatest,” which is based on a true story. And no matter what, we just enjoy helping others and building friendships with people in need.
Always be kind. If you see someone falling behind, walk beside them. If someone is being ignored, find a way to include them. If someone has fallen, lift them up. Always remind people of their worth. One smile, one word of encouragement, one small act of kindness, could mean the world to them.
Some of the seeds have already sprouted. We are making a visible, tangible difference. For example, Brighten the Corner has helped homeless people find work. We were instrumental in reconnecting a homeless man with his wealthy father after several years of having no communication. We arranged for a homeless man to get into a 10-month residential drug rehabilitation program. We assisted a homeless lady with obtaining shelter. We helped a homeless man return to his home state where he now rents an apartment and volunteers at a soup kitchen. We stay in contact with him and are always glad to hear how well he is doing. Success stories like these are thrilling to us. And of course, we want nothing in return. As John Bunyan said, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”