Sunday, November 8, 2015

Trees for Tots

If you've followed me at all recently, you know my wife and I are part of starting a new church, called CollectiveMKE. At the moment, we're still fairly small, though growing two people at a time lately. I have come to really look forward to our Sunday morning "home church" meetings where we gather as 12-15 people and half as many kids. We have the greatest discussions about our faith, Biblical stories and just life events.

We were talking this morning about the story of the widow who gave only a couple of pennies. It moved us to talking about what it takes to change how we view the world. Person after person gave accounts of instances where doing something selfless or sacrificial led them not only to feeling better about themselves but also how blessings came back to them in some sort of circular flow. It's hard to explain. Actually, it's easier to just do it and see for yourself. 

An example from my own experience happened this past weekend. A guy from our church asked if anyone would be willing to help him remove some trees from another guy's property. 


Now, like every volunteer event that I've done in the past five years, my first thought was all about the time I was losing in my weekend. Because, of course, serving others is all about me. My time, my comfort, my resources, me, me, me. 

You see? I've still got a long ways to go. 

To be fair to myself, I did immediately say yes, despite my first thoughts. So, that's worth something. 

So at the appointed time on Saturday I showed up to our friends' house. When I walked in, there were seven kids at the breakfast table, with most of them under five years old. This couple has three of their own kids but also have taken in five foster kids.

Five. 

I have two kids and barely made it to fifty alive. They have eight at the moment. 

Now, I understand this is a choice. No one forced them to take this on. They just did. They did it because they made a choice to try and make a difference in the world, one child at a time. And I know them enough that I know they certainly didn't do it because they want accolades or special recognition for it. They just saw a need, and met it. 

And when I walked into the door, to see those kids' smiling faces and how they were all just sitting like one big family, it warmed my heart. One toddler even motioned for me to pick her up, which I did out of habit. (It's weird how you snap back into young dad mode, instantly!) 

The whole scene reminded me why I was so quick to say yes to helping remove these trees. I knew the makeup of this family and I realized that four hours out of my Saturday was nothing compared to the sacrifices they are making. In fact it pales in comparison. 

So we cut down two trees and trimmed back a third. I got to work a chainsaw for the first time in my life, which was an absolute blast. (I only buried the blade in a tree once, but wrested it free eventually). It was a beautiful fall day, and I was outside, getting a good workout with good friends, so I don't know why I was worried about losing part of my Saturday. That's the selfish part of me that I'm still working on. Furthermore, I still got everything done that I'd planned on for the weekend. Funny how that works.

But like we were saying, if you start doing things for the better of the world around you, it starts to change how you see everything. Then it changes how you act. Then it becomes part of your nature. And it culminates in how you can't see things the way you used to see them. 

The best part of it all is your life becomes richer and more fulfilling and, not to mention, you get to meet some great people along the way.

And sometimes you get to cut things with a chainsaw too. 

Blogging off...

2 comments:

Carrie A Ryman said...

Wonderful, inspirational blog entry! I especially liked your line about doing good changes how you see, then how you act, and it then becomes part of your nature... culminating in a change in the way you see things. I love the way it wraps around. It reminded me of one of a bit of wisdom, which I learned in an Art of Living course many years ago: The moral evolution of a human being is to progress from being somebody to nobody to everybody. Shedding ego and embracing community, knowing everyone is inherently part of us is a liberating, beautiful thing!

Jim Landwehr said...

Thank you again Carrie. It's fascinating how weirdly circular it becomes. Your AOL quote sounds like the Thich Nhat Hanh whose book Being Peace I am reading now. Also, Richard Rohr's Falling Upward.