Two quick stories occur to me in light of recent national and international events. Both have actually happened.
An elderly member of our congregation was scheduled for knee replacement surgery in a couple of months and was limping along as best should could until then. Meanwhile she needed to see another doctor about another matter. It was the middle of summer in Houston. This means it was also in the mid-90’s that day. The parking lot outside the building where the doctor had his office was full. She drove round and round and finally found a parking spot far from the entrance to the building. She limped along the hot pavement with her bum knee and finally made it to the doctor’s receptionist.
“You’re ten minutes late. We cancelled your appointment. You’ll have to make another one.”
A grandfather was wrapping up business in Los Angeles when his daughter called to let him know the doctors had said there was nothing more they could do for her son, his grandson. The child had an incurable disease and was on life-support. The parents had reluctantly, but finally, decided to remove the life support. However, the medical staff said they could wait for Grandpa to join the family at the child’s bedside. This meant a rapid departure for LAX, a long wait in the security line, and a dash through the enormous terminal to try to catch the Southwest flight to his hometown. The intercom system announced that the flight was departing and all passengers needed to be on board now. Grandpa was in pretty good shape, but certainly not a long-distance runner. He was afraid he’d missed the flight, but decided to continue to the gate to see if he could get on the next flight.
Much to his amazement and relief, the captain of the flight was standing at the open door to the plane. Someone along the way had let him know about the grandfather’s situation. The Captain told the grandfather, “They can’t leave without me and I’m not leaving without you. Take your seat and let’s get you home.”
Life happens. There are good times and not so good times for all of us. What kind of world would you rather live in? One where an elderly, limping woman is turned away for being a few minutes late? Or one in which the captain of the plane holds up the flight a few minutes to help a grandpa see his grandson one last time?
The deciding factor in which kind of world we live in isn’t up to the people we elect to public office. Of course the people we elect makes a difference. It also matters how, when, where, and why we speak up and hold our elected leaders accountable.
But ultimately it isn’t who wins the elections or the wheelers and dealers who run the corporations of the world that determine what kind of world we experience. That is up to each and every one of us. How we invest the days and dollars under our control determines whether the world becomes more compassionate or crueler. It’s up to each of us to use our influence to make decisions based on compassion and common sense. That is how we let our light so shine before others that they can see our good words and give glory to God.