When I unfurl our American flag to hang out front, I often recall our first year in Honduras. We lived in Tela, on the north coast (on the Caribbean). The pervasive poverty had hit me hard and I felt impotent in the face of all the deprivation surrounding us. What was my offering among so many needs? When a U.S. Navy ship docked at the banana loading docks as part of a friendship effort by the Navy, I gained an insight.
The crew brought shoes and clothing personally collected in the States, and they shared freely throughout the community. They used their weekend liberty (time off) going around town to repair a roof for a widow, fix a door, or help in any way they could find. Several sailors painted the school where we taught. Our two teenage daughters drew the interest of a couple of junior officers and we ended up hosting all the officers for a delightful, encouraging dinner. Before the ship left the next day they gave us a tour, along with locals who had been impressed with the sailor’s generosity and behavior.
We stood on the beach as they shoved off. With a lump in my throat, I watched the American flag wave. I was proud of those boys. Proud of our Navy. Proud of my country. And I’d never been so proud of the red, white and blue. I covered my heart, and had to hold myself back from belting out the National Anthem.
A student during the height of the Vietnam years, jaded by watching the assassinations of our president, John F Kennedy, presidential candidate, Bobby Kennedy, and peaceful civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., along with the lies and deceptions of Watergate, it had been a long time since I’d been proud of my country.
Here I stood, on foreign soil, savoring the values that had made our country great.
That make the United States of America a place many still struggle to immigrate to.
Not speeches and politicians,
not railroad magnates
or corporate giants.
Not fat wallets
Or impressive churches.
Not grand houses
Or flashy cars
Or well-lined retirement accounts.
Not tall buildings or big cities
or luxurious shopping centers.
Over two hundred years ago, it was simply people, of many nationalities, unnamed individuals who worked hard, but always had time, energy and “a little to spare” for someone in need.
I believe it remains the only way for the United States to be a great country, a nation with a future.
My husband and I were on a road trip a few days ago and listened to an awful audio book. (We kept thinking it would get better.) But one character’s viewpoint was worth the listening time.
Each one is valuable, or no one is valuable.
Wherever you are, whatever your country, as a citizen of this great Earth, tune in to opportunities before you, and around you, for lending a hand.
For affirming each person as worthy, made in the image of God.
Even if you all you have to share is a touch or a smile.
It doesn’t really take a whole village. One person can make all the difference.
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’ . . .
‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
Has one person made a big difference in your life?
Have you acted to bless someone who never expected it?