On becoming wise men (and women)

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions (as a rule) although a few years ago I set up some writers goals. This year, I made none. Then yesterday I jokingly prayed at the beginning of church, “Maybe you can give me a blog post” and during the homily, this came into my head.

A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me a question over email, opting out of leaving it in the comments box because {rough paraphrase} “your weblog has people who are Christian, Catholic, religious non-Christian, agnostic, atheist, and everything else” and the person didn’t want to start a debate. That’s something I love about this blog, myself, that we’re of many different faiths and opinions and yet discussion in the comments box is always civil. From different perspectives, we recognize the human in all of us.

Anyhow, back to the blog post: the priest talked about the story The Fourth Wise Man, about a (wait for it) 4th Wise Man who meant to visit the Christ Child but was delayed because he stopped to help a poor man. He kept trying to catch up with the other but encountering those who needed help, and in the process spending the jewels he’d meant to give. He finally encounters Jesus at the Crucifixion, and he says, “I wish I could help you,” and Jesus replies, “You have.”

My next thought was that it would be nice if at the end, we get to see God bearing all the things we’ve given or done to help people in need. But then I thought how puny it would be in my case. Hats and scarves: whoopie.

But in the next instant, I thought, for the homeless person who received that last hat/scarf set, it mattered. I relieved his or her suffering a little bit. I couldn’t resolve it, but I could help a bit.

Ivy says if we all helped a bit, we could end want in the world. But let’s aim lower, for helping ease one person’s small need. So I’d ask everyone here, resolve to do something charitable.

Not money. I know so many readers here have none to spare, seriously. But consider the ways you can show your charity to others. Remember the woman who was Christ to me after I backed into her car? We can show charity to one another in those ways.

We can smile at the cashier. We can cull an infrequently worn sweater from our closet and donate it to the homeless shelter. Got three scarves? Maybe one can be given away. We can buy a multipack and donate one item to the soup kitchen. We can listen to that annoying person we usually brush off, or we can hug a grieving person.

Just one act, one reaching-out. One moment of making someone’s world brighter, easing someone’s suffering, meeting someone’s hidden need.

Of course, if you earn a million dollars a year, no charity is going to turn down the money. But what’s reasonable for each of us? How much could the world change if all of us gave of the small things we could?


  1. cricketB

    There once was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore, as he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day and he began to walk faster to catch up.

    As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man, and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something, and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

    He called out, “Good morning, what are you doing?”

    The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

    “I guess I should have asked; why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”

    “The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them then they’ll die.”

    “But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”

    The young man listened politely, then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

    -Author Unknown-

  2. lbdiamond

    Here, here! How funny that the topic of giving (of money, time, charity, love…yes, even a smile) was discussed in church yesterday. This is an important point to remember.

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