The Man Who Gave in Secret
When I was still a grandpa at the Children’s Village, a man came to shampoo the carpets in my apartment. I had agreed to pay him $100, which, considering the condition of the carpets was a bargain.
During the course of his work he asked me about the Children’s Village. “What kind of place is this anyway?” I told him it was a home for abused and neglected kids. “Really,” he said. “You guys help these kids?” “Well we try our best,” I replied.
When the guy was done with the carpets, I pulled out my wallet to pay him. “This one is on me,” he said. “I have kids of my own at home. Thanks for doing what you’re doing.”
Please don’t write this off as just another feel good story and go back to reading about the woman who was mugged in Oakland and the coach who abused kids on his basketball team.
I think it is important for us to pay attention to the good things that happen in our lives. If we but open our eyes to see, we are inundated with the goodness of people all around us and many times we choose to ignore it.
There is way more goodness out there than we realize so what’s up with our tendency to focus on the bad? We scan the newspaper or the Internet and our eyes fall on the seamy side of life. We wallow vicariously in the scuttlebutt about the preacher who cheats on his wife or the politician who cheats on his taxes.
But, you know something? You’re messing with your mind when you remain unaware of the dude down the street who is a Big Brother to a troubled kid or the retired teacher who helps with the adult literacy program.
In the early days of the computer, they used to say “garbage in; garbage out.” If we concentrate our attention on the garbage that enters our minds and ignore inputting the good stuff, no wonder we feel depressed.
Recently, I was honored to read the words of a 12 year-old boy who had been beaten so badly by his drunken dad that the boy had to be put in a group home. “I know my dad did bad things to me,” he wrote, “but I forgive him, cuz I know nobody is perfect…and he is my dad.” True story; beautiful young man. Folks, these kinds of stories are all around us.
I am not nor have I ever been a member of the Pollyanna Society of America. Hell no, as a Catholic priest for ten years, I have heard the confessions of some tough hombres. I know our dark side but refuse to let either myself or my fellow human beings be defined by our shadow. We are the creation of a kind and loving God and that goodness is in us and around us.
Want to know how I am so sure? Because one day I happened to meet this carpet installer who gave up his fee for a bunch of kids he didn’t even know