Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Grease for the Wheels

In The Ten Commandments movie years ago, the mother of Moses was portrayed as one of the workers who greased the path of the huge blocks used in constructing a pyramid.  When her gown caught under the block, her death was certain except for the help afforded her by her son. Without his intervention, her body would have simply been another greasy spot along the way.


Sometimes we tend to feel that our bodies have a good chance of becoming just another greasy spot in the rush and bustle of the times.  Traffic accidents, medical mishaps, societal ‘storage’ of older people, and a general apathy or disregard for neighbors occur often enough to leave some of us wondering if anyone would notice if we suddenly disappeared.


Americans have always favored the self-reliant individual, yet the pioneer spirit was one of cooperation and helping one’s neighbor.  Being self-reliant does not negate one’s responsibility to the community—at any age or stage of life.  The combination of American ingenuity, self-reliance, and pure hardheadedness has served our society well.  But one of the best results of American character has been the proliferation of volunteerism.


Young men leave work in the afternoon to go coach baseball teams of youngsters.  At one time the wives even made the uniforms for the youngest players.  The younger people learn from example, of course, and grow up to volunteer as coaches when their children are old enough to play.  The same is true for Boy and Girl Scouts, after school tutoring programs, Boys and Girls Clubs, Meals on Wheels, and various other groups who depend on volunteers to make things run smoothly.


A day usually comes into most lives when it seems that the body has betrayed the wishes of the individual’s life and spirit.  Throwing a baseball, threading a needle, picking up a child, or even getting down to weed the flower beds may become problematic.  But as long as the spirit retains its identity, the person can still be a giving individual.  Volunteering need not require physical stress.  Our next door neighbor showed me what she thought was a poisonous snake near her sidewalk.  She was volunteering to teach me something she knew.  It was not a formal class.  It was a neighborly deed.  In listening to volunteers tell stories last night, I have now learned that a snake with round eyes is not poisonous—as if I would get close enough to look!


The point is that we all know assorted facts and stories that can be shared with others.  Fang could tell anyone a few simple mechanical tricks to making car maintenance easier.  But somehow I cannot imagine anyone ever asking me for the best way to use gerunds.  Still, I refuse to be a greasy spot under the pyramids.  Cut me loose and let me tell my stories.  Surely someone needs to hear what I know!

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