By the Rev. KEN WEISS
Special to the Sun-Gazette
This past week I was carrying a box of books to donate to the Brown Library for its book sale. Not as young as I once was, I find such a task not as easy as it sounds. As I approached the first set of doors, a young man coming out graciously opened the door for me, then, telling me to wait, ran around me on the steps to open the second set of doors at the top. I cannot tell you what that little act of kindness meant to me. Someone had noticed my slight struggle and had taken the time to help.
It meant so much that the rest of that week I tried to do small acts of kindness to others. Nothing planned - just seizing the moment. I have opened a few doors, helped someone with some heavy bags of groceries to her car, given directions to someone totally lost, and explained how the food court at Wegmans works to a bus trip visitor. Each time I helped someone, it brought me the same kind of joy as when that young man had helped me. Isn't it strange that no matter whether you are the one being helped or the one helping, you end up feeling better?
This is the major message of most faiths. It is no real secret, yet it is critical in making the world a better place. "Footsteps to Follow" is the title of this weekly series that United Churches has been presenting for more than 20 years. So let us truly follow in God's footsteps by helping others. We can help in big ways, but more than likely most of us will have far more opportunities to help in small ways. We can call it Paying it Forward, or any other variation on that theme. Whatever we call it, let's do it. Let's do it in God's name and with the love of God foremost in our hearts.
One other short story. Over New Year's, my wife and I were away during that major storm we had right after Christmas. We were far south, away from snow and cold. After we landed in Harrisburg, got into our car and started driving north. I couldn't help notice the snow - big piles of the stuff! Then I realized it. We had traveled from 8 a.m. It now was almost midnight. We were tired, cold and ready to get out of the car and go to bed. But how were we going to do that with our steep and rather large driveway that had to have a foot of snow in it?
Feel with me my surprise and joy when the headlights hit our driveway to find it clear of all snow.
A miracle? Perhaps! It was not the kind of miracle in which suddenly God cuts a path in the snow. It was the kind of miracle in which a neighbor who knew we were away decides to shovel our drive - twice in fact. That miracle had a name of Billy. ... So thanks to my wonderful neighbor who blessed us in a way that he could not imagine, I have been trying to repay that kindness since, not just to him but to all those in need.
Thanks to that young man, name unknown, who took the time to open two doors at the library. Thanks to Billy and to all those who have blessed me in so many ways. I will try to spend each day trying to repay them by helping others. Will you be willing to do the same?
- Weiss operates Caring Outreach for Seniors in Williamsport.