In the wake of last week’s tragedy in Boston, what are the images that stayed with you? The pillowing smoke? Blood on the streets? Shell-shocked victims in wheelchairs? Our hearts have been broken again. And since the footage is shown over and over, we’re traumatized each time, just like when the twin towers burned on 9/11.
To cope, I’ve tried to focus instead on the images of the helpers. Last week we all stood together in unity, expressing sorrow, outrage, sympathy and God’s peace to the great city of Boston. One of the memes that stuffed Facebook feeds showcased a quote from Mr. Rogers, “When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say, ‘Look for the helpers. There are always people willing to help.’”
I tend to think of “helpers” as those who dedicate their lives to minister to others — nurses, doctors, police officers, clergy, nuns, social workers, firefighters and soldiers. These folks answered a high calling to care for the sick, the troubled and the downtrodden. They’re the first responders that bolted from nearby medical centers to aid and comfort the injured at the finish line. We see them emerge again and again when disaster strikes, often at great peril or sacrifice to themselves.
But they’re not the only ones God calls to help.
If you’re someone gifted with compassion, or if you’re simply willing, you can serve as the hands and feet of Jesus wherever there is trouble and need. And there is trouble and need everywhere — in your family, in your neighborhood, in your community. You don’t have to serve in a heroic capacity to become a helper. As Mother Theresa said, “We cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
Jesus ministered to others as he walked along the road, curing afflictions of the body, mind and soul. He also simply listened, and offered wise counsel. So while your vocation may not require you to run into a burning building, you might be called to identify and tend to suffering along your path. Did your neighbor recently lose a spouse? Take a meal and visit. Could the exasperated young mother at the store use an encouraging smile? It can be as simple as that. We are a broken people, all of us. Keep your eyes open and your heart ready.
Where is God calling you to serve right now? The first place to start might be a nursery. At my own church, and every church I’ve ever visited, there is always a plea for nursery caregivers.
If you’re brand new to church, walk in and ask if you can serve in the nursery, and I promise you’ll garner instant rock star status (plus, you’ll get to meet some very nice parents who are so grateful for an hour of peace and quiet. Instant friends).
Are you heroic enough to run into a room full of chirping, smiling babies — some of whom might just need a diaper change? Blessed are the helpers.
• A longtime resident of Ahwatukee Foothills, Diane Meehl and her family worship at Mountain View Lutheran Church. She and her daughters can be found serving in the nursery there on the first Sunday of every month. Share your comments and suggestions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.