Friday, November 7, 2014
“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” — Dalai Lama
The picture at the right is of a crowned crane, a bird that is common here and in all of East Africa. It is the national bird of Uganda and very beautiful. I doubt that it is aware of the ripples it is creating in the pond in which it finds itself. I also think that most of us are just as unaware of the far-reaching effects of the little things that we do. This concept was dramatically presented in “It’s A Wonderful Life” where George Bailey is about to commit suicide and Clarence, Angel Second Class, intervenes and shows George what the world would have been like had he not been dropping pebbles in the pond of his own life and in the lives of others. In real life, we don’t get a “Clarence” to show us the good we have done without knowing it. I can’t remember who wrote it, but someone once wrote that God just doesn’t give us little colored tabs so that we can see when we are a part of a mighty work of God. He went on to say that we probably couldn’t handle knowing, that like Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” we can’t even look at something without affecting it, and if we knew the good things (or the bad) that we had started without knowing it, it would overwhelm us. That being said, there is no argument that even the tiniest of things can have huge consequences. Chaos theory says that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause monsoons in East Asia. All I know is that the tiniest thing, a touch, a hug, a pat, a smile, a kind word--all can change the lives of the recipients. I was watching an episode of “The Secret Millionaire” and the millionaire watched as a man with few of his own resources, took off his own shoes on a street in L.A. to put them on a homeless man’s shoeless feet. It affected the rich man, but it also affected me, and I would guess many, many who saw it. That one, short, selfless act, was probably forgotten by the man who did it in just a short time, but I will always remember it, as I am sure the rich man will remember it forever. You just don’t know where those ripples will reach, whom they will touch, and how far a small act of love and kindness will go. The key thing here is that knowing about ripples compels the compassionate, the Christian, to do those small acts of kindness as often and as frequently as possible. Do them until you can’t remember doing them. Do them until people later thank you, and you can’t remember for what they are thanking you. Become kindness. Become the act of love. It’s what we do here and because we do forget quickly we often think we are doing nothing noteworthy, but that is just not true. Look at the ripples in the picture. Do you know where they stop? I don’t.