Sometimes we all wonder if what we do makes a difference, not only to the people around us but in the general scheme of life.
Who really cares if I throw my recycling in the trash after lunch instead of waiting to take it to the appropriate containers. Who really cares if I continue to use Styrofoam containers or don’t bother to clean up after my dog? I’m learning how much we all care, but especially the younger generations who will have to deal with the mess, like we now work to clean up polluted waters.
When I was in the doctor’s office last week, she told me the cost of the services would be $75, yet when I checked out, I was charged $27. I questioned the amount. Who would it have hurt if I had paid the lesser amount? Well… everyone would have been hurt because the cost of our medical care goes up as doctors have to cover deficits like this.
Does it really matter if parents don’t take time to read to their children, answer questions, help with homework and let children help while they still want to? I remember as a child I was a good helper. I helped the guys mow lawn, shovel snow, paint steps, fix all sorts of things, even the roof. The women of my family (we were four generations) taught me much about cooking, sewing and housekeeping, as well as being the person God created me to be. My family encouraged me to envision myself in college well before I went to kindergarten, and began college funds for me way back then. They taught me that faith in God, my family and myself was important, as was lifelong learning and respect for others.
The other day, my niece called exhausted the other day and said thank you. Confused, I asked why. She said she had just spent the afternoon with her three year old making Christmas cookies from scratch. She had not truly appreciated the gift of helping I’d given her when, as a child, she often helped me to cook, until she gave that gift herself.
When I walk into one of the local nursing homes and a familiar voice says, “Hey, church lady!” I smile and wave and respond that church will start in a few minutes. The gentleman responds that he will be there. He is from Russia, and English is difficult for him. But he loves music, knows the Lord’s Prayer, and can follow familiar scripture. I could just not bother, but he matters.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions noted recently that since “80% of the world’s population adheres to some faith tradition, these communities are crucial agents of transformation for global, family, individual [and community] peace - and peace and healing of the whole Earth community” (Kitagawa). What we do does matter as we affirm our common humanity.
Black people matter. Women matter. First responders matter. LGBTQ people matter. Older and younger people matter and everyone in between. People in recovery matter as well as people working to get into recovery. Both Democrats and Republicans matter. And certainly you and I matter. We all matter, whatever our labels. And it matters what we do, and what we don’t do. Choose wisely, and may God bless your doing.
-Rev. Gwen Bernstine, Executive Director, United Churches of Lycoming County