“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.”
  —  George Iles

When my sweetheart and I began, thirty years ago, to discover each other and when we began to dream together about the life we might share, two things stood out.  First, we wanted to build a family.  Second, we wanted to be of service to the people we met.  The two have been intertwined, and sometimes it has been that very family that has needed us to serve.  Sometimes, we have challenged every member of the family to get on board and join us as we serve the needs of others.  It has been an interesting journey, and my first impulse is to glorify our choices and paint some rosy picture of our super-human ability to rise above the mundane and deliver in a selfless and spiritually enlightened way.  The truth is that the choices we have made have challenged us through the years and continue to encourage us to stretch beyond what we think we can do.

Yesterday was day two of a planned work weekend at our house.  After two summers on the road, we’ve been enjoying the chance to catch up on all the small repairs that have take a backseat to the final demands of our years of parenting.  We were cruising right along, and only two items remained on our to-do list for the weekend when the phone rang.  Interruptions.  When you choose a life of service, you grow to expect interruptions; but they still can surprise you when you’ve made other plans.  A young friend needed our help.  She was about to embark on a new adventure – heading to college for the very first time – and suddenly, with a 90-minute ride and a two-hour deadline, she was without a way to get there.  The end of our list of goals was so near I could taste the satisfaction that I knew I would feel as I crossed off the last item.  Now I felt myself giving a thumbs-up to my sweetheart who is everyone’s driver, giving him my support to hit the road for three hours while I attended to other obligations at home.

I like to think that I live with my heart wide open at times like this; but the truth is that I was feeling interrupted, disappointed, and maybe even a tiny bit perturbed at losing my partner in crime just as we approached our shared goal of the day.  As I heaved a heavy sigh, I thought of all the times when I had been the person who needed a hand, or a leg-up, or a ride, or a last-minute favor.  I felt around in my virtual dresser for my big-girl panties, pulled them on and adjusted them, and reminded myself of our “Big G” goals as I kissed my sweetie goodbye and wished him smooth sailing.  I wanted to share this here, because I sometimes think that when our life of service is seen by other people, they assume that we have some sort of super-human ability to go with the flow and not worry about what gets set aside in favor of a good deed.  The truth is that we get cranky and tired and jealous and snarky, just like everybody else — the difference is that we have been lucky enough to have the hand of faith reach out in the dark and touch us with hope.  Once that has happened, it is next to impossible not to want to pass it along.  Hope.  That’s what makes it worth the effort.  That’s what makes us grow up when we feel childish and cranky about the interruptions.  That’s what makes looking back on yesterday such a sweet thing.  It took only 3 1/2 hours of our time to deliver hope to someone who is off to begin her life; and there is no gift we would rather have sent with her.

As I sat this morning and reflected on all of this, my eye caught a post by one of my Facebook friends, Obi Kaye.  It said,

“Kindness is such a thing of great importance that even the smallest one; a smile, a kind word can change lives.”

That’s what it’s about.  Changing lives.  And I know ours have been changed by the choices we have made.  Thanks for the reminder, my friend.