The thing is, George never thought of the things he did in his daily life as being anything special, as something that would change the lives of those around him.
Really, do any of us?
I'm sure you have all been in the situation when someone tells you -- perhaps years later -- that something you did really made a difference to them. It may have given them confidence when it was badly needed, or the courage to make a challenging decision. You may well have saved more than a life or two and not even know it.
I was thinking about this because I just finished a wonderful book -- I hope you'll click over to Chopsticks and String after reading this, because I share much more about it and it truly is a memorable book and one worth knowing about.
First-time author Jane Knuth from Portage, MI, recounts her experiences volunteering at a St. Vincent de Paul store in Kalamazoo. The book is funny, touching, beautiful, delightful and thought-provoking -- and if you read what I wrote on Chopsticks, perhaps you'll see why. (End plug -- but really, I hope you'll go over there and read that post! Now!)
When I donate things, I tend to do one of two drop-off options: the Goodwill store in Gaylord (because I figure otherwise they are just recycling the same clothes from the same small town) or the Lansing St. Vincent de Paul store.
A number of years ago, I had my trunk filled with clothing and thought I would stop by after my mammogram. But when I got in the car after the X-ray, my hand went into crippling pain and spasm. I could barely manage the steering wheel. I had no idea what I had done to "sprain" or hurt myself -- it was fine not long before.
Figuring it would go away, I made my stop at St. Vincent de Paul to drop my clothes.
A volunteer -- not unlike those Jane tells about in her book -- kindly helped me get the bags out of the car. As I thanked him I apologized for not being able to help and told him about my hand.
"My sister had something like that happen, and then she had a stroke," he said. "You really should have that checked out." (Angel encounter)
Scared me to death, but it gave me something to think about. I went through all the "stroke" exercises -- moving your tongue a certain way, saying the alphabet, smiling, touching finger to finger. I decided I probably wasn't having a stroke, but as long as I was concerned, and it was only four o'clock, I should cruise by my doc's office, just for sport.
I walked into the full waiting room and told the receptionist while I was there. She immediately put me in a room, where they took my blood pressure several times. It was outrageously high. Way outrageously high. I could tell they were scared; I wasn't sure why.
Well, several hours later and after the BP came down, I was sent home, on medication. I'm pleased to say I've been fine since.
The point is -- this guy, this volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul, whose name I don't even know, may have saved my life. Maybe that's an overstatement, but it could go either way.
And he doesn't know. I don't really now how to find him -- it was long ago. Yet now and then I think of him with such gratitude.
Rachel Naomi Remen, another author (and medical doctor) whose work is a great favorite of mine, is a dazzling speaker who when appearing at East Lansing shared a story of one of those miracle encounters. She said a few words to a woman -- a stranger, as I recall -- on the streets of New York City. Years later she met the woman again. The words Remen had said had given the woman the courage to leave an abusive relationship and set up a shelter, I believe.
Over on Chopsticks, you'll meet an angel and if you read her book, she'll tell you about others. And who knows -- it wouldn't surprise me at all if you might be one, too.
We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.
~Luciano de Crescenzo
~Luciano de Crescenzo