We have to try and care

Bird Droppings January 25, 2023

We have to try and care

So far, for this year and the tail end of last year, all the snow, sleet, and ice predicted have never shown up, just cold, foggy, wet, and nasty. It has been unseasonably colder than usual, with scatterings of warm weather still only a few nights getting below freezing. I lost my phone briefly yesterday as I returned from Kroger and found it. However, those few moments of thinking it was lost made me aware of how dependent we have become on our smartphones. I did not know my son’s or my wife’s numbers and had to look up my cellular accounts on the internet. Fortunately, as I walked in, my phone was sitting at my last stop as I headed home yesterday.

As I headed out this morning to catch a sunrise and get some milk to make pancakes, I thought there is a chance of sunshine later, starting tonight, with more rain. When she returned from walking yesterday morning, my wife said it was cold. I am sitting here in my office pondering my writing for today. Yesterday I sat talking with some students on war and faith and how humans have such inconsistent and often conflicting views, creating much of the world’s tumult. In a roundabout way, the discussion ended up with Mother Teresa. I have always been impressed with the attitude and faith of Mother Teresa.

“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.” Mother Teresa

It is difficult for me even to imagine the ability to do what Mother Teresa did day after day. She was walking the streets of Calcutta, India, dealing with poverty and human suffering I can barely imagine. In the above thought, she asks to light a light in people’s hearts, and I try and compare and feel like a match stuck, barely casting a spark.

“No matter what age you are or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning.” Barbara De Angelis

“The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.” Ethel Percy Andrus

As I look at my day and my effort to try and emulate some of the humanities’ great givers, I realize I am here now. That other person was there at their moment, and for now, even if only a spark, a minimum of light, it is light, and it is shining, and what I can do now within the context of where I am is what is so important. I recall a morning I spent before class in the hall, always talking to students, often walking down the hall simply being there. I interject questions such as how are you and such and often, more times than not, make some intelligent remark, “I wonder if they are still grouchy today?” Yesterday my friend who wasn’t speaking to me, I followed down the hall directly behind her with comments like, some people are annoying; they stop talking to other people for no apparent reason. After about fifteen feet of annoying remarks, she turned around, cracking up, and said ok, I will speak to you. Later in the day, I think a well of holding back spilled out. Have you ever tried to listen to a kid with ADHD try and explain why they were mad at you, and all that has happened in a week in fifteen seconds or less requires hypersonic listening?

“It is rare indeed that people give. Most people guard and keep; they suppose that it is they themselves and what they identify with themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume to be.” James Baldwin

“It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.” Richard Braunstein

As I read Mother Teresa’s comments, the “L” word comes up time and time again; love is the focus of her thoughts and statements. It is often difficult to use that word; parents find it hard to tell their children. I have often heard the line, “my children know I love them even if I do not tell them.”

“The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one’s self to others.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” Flora Edwards

It amazes me that people do not see how selfish love and giving are. When you love and give, it is returned the circle is complete. I know this is an understatement, and love and giving are not selfish, but it is so true that this circular motion occurs. It may be simply the feeling of doing good. I did years back a poster for school about the relief fund one of the classes had started. It is a feeling of goodwill of love. While these kids will never witness any effect that what they do here in our town collecting money for a relief fund does, there is satisfaction and pride in the effort.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran

 “He who obtains has little. He who scatters has much.” Lao-Tzu

I have been a visitor in schools where teachers wall themselves up in their rooms’ They open the door for class and lecture, close the door, then open the door and maintain this assembly line routine through the day and never once have actual contact with a student. They take roll. I did that the other day and started calling names and said we had been required to call the roll, and students must raise their hand and say present after about two or three students did it, one piped up, “Mr. Bird, but you know we are here” and therein lays the difference. Some teachers are so engrossed in not knowing their students they never know they are there. Many choose not to give for fear of caring.

I called a home I recall a few years back and asked if we could talk about his daughter. He was pleasant and polite. I asked about his daughter, who is a ninth-grader. She was with friends for the weekend, and he had told her she was responsible for her ride to and from a town about thirty miles the distant average car is 10 miles per gallon, which is 3 gallons; either way, a total of six gallons of gas and if careful we can get gas for $3.35 so maybe $20.00 in gas. She could not get a ride back, and he told her he could not afford to come to get her. Perhaps my comprehension was a bit off. If one of my children went out of town for the weekend and could not get home, I would have found twenty dollars in gas or a way to get them home. My initial reason for calling was due to attendance.

“A handful of pine seed will cover mountains with the green majesty of forests. I, too, will set my face to the wind and throw my handful of seed on high.” Fiona Macleod

“We must give more in order to get more; it is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.” Orison Swett Marden

“In Giving, a man receives more than he gives, and the more is in proportion to the worth of the thing given.” George McDonald

I looked through old photos from back in the day and found several friends from Auburn, Alabama. These photos go back nearly twenty-five years. The young man in the photos used to work for me when he was in college. I recalled jokingly talking to his wife after I spontaneously called after looking at the pictures. I remember meeting his wife’s father for the first time. My friend was hiding in our stock trailer at a livestock show. Her daddy did not want her to see him, and he was looking for him; amazing how time changes things. But a small side note they lost a baby several years ago and now have two healthy boys and a girl. As I talked with my friend’s wife, she offered that it was meant to be. There was a reason in her heart, and she may never know why they lost a child. It had taken two years, but they had another baby, and you see, every day, I end with remembering those in harm’s way. Well, in harm’s way is a necessary term. Keep the unborn babies in your thoughts. These are fine folks.

“If we want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” Mother Teresa

“I want you to be concerned about your next-door neighbor. Do you know your next-door neighbor?” Mother Teresa

“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our home. Bring love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start.” Mother Teresa

Today make an effort to know your students, your children, your friends, your family, and those you meet, so as I do every day, please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts, and always give thanks.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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