March 15, 2010

We Need Paper Towels

I think my father wanted to spend some time alone with my mother yesterday as he encouraged me to head out to church, where a special speaker was addressing a large gathering of saints. (He was worried about her not bouncing back from her illness, I think, and really, couldn't we all use a little space from houseguests once in a while?)

As I was driving there, I passed a downtown Rescue Mission where the large cross (Jesus Saves) reminded passersby of their main mission (Hope, Peace, Love), but added: "We need paper towels. Thank you."

I was raised with a strong religious tradition, and have been reminded more than once that while religions can preach all day long from the pulpit about being saved and reading the scriptures and sequestering their members from sin and evil, most of the time, it really is about the paper towels. We lived in Peru when I was a child and on our way to family excursions would pass by Lima's city dump, where there were many squatters. A common sight was a small hovel created from four large square grass mats (three walls and a roof), the drifting gray smoke from their small fires making up their hearth and home as they lived on what they could find in the refuse. More than once my father made the observation that these souls needed a full stomach before they could be educated, or saved, or what have you.

That idea has resonated as I've delivered many many new-baby casseroles, served dinners at homeless shelters or offered up my time to help pack relief boxes for Katrina. We're all just trying to keep body and soul together one way or another. To be truthful, I'm not very good at preaching religion and probably never will be. But I can look out for a neighbor who needs their trash cans brought in. Or a friend who just needs someone to take them to lunch and listen.

When my first husband blithely stepped away from our marriage, a close friend knocked on my door in those first few awful days, bringing me and the children a simple supper of fried chicken, mashed potatos and green jello. She went back out to her car and brought in a plate of cupcakes and sat us down at the kitchen table to eat. She then went over to the sink, and did the dishes, chatting away as we all tried to not think of the devastation that we felt. She then bathed the children, tucking them in to sleep with a song and a story, then sat beside me on the sofa as I cried and cried and cried.

More than once I have been the recipient of such an act of kindness, of someone tending to my earthly needs, of someone--if you will--showing up with the paper towels, saving my life. I can only hope to do the same for someone else.

SOLSC Day 15. Click to return.

1 comment:

  1. What wonderful acts of kindness, giving and taking. How wonderful,