I recently heard someone say, ‘What you do for others you do also for yourself.’
I was confused at first, because it almost made me feel selfish. I mean, I love doing things for other people, but my wife told my recently that I always put others first. She was saying that was one of my faults. I needed a little more ‘me’ in my efforts to change the world.
I visit people in nursing homes, retirement and senior centers. I love to spend time with older folks. It’s like mining for gold. They have been down the road ahead of me and I want to know what they have learned so that I make the right choices.
A speaker at a conference I attended many years ago asked, ‘Where do you think the most valued real estate is in the world.’
Hands went up and offered big city names, resorts in development and exotic locations around the world.
‘Nice try,’ he said. ‘The most valuable real estate are the cemeteries. Buried there are dreams that might have changed the world, perhaps cures for major diseases that were never developed and people who could have made a difference in your life but never took the chance. What happened? No one listened.’
I listen, I encourage, but I don’t realize the value of what I do or understand the impact.
It was during a recent visit to a new facility that I realized that my efforts made a difference in the lives of those I met.
‘How are you today?’ I heard someone ask.
I turned around and scanned the room to see who was speaking.
‘I heard the voice of an angel!’ I said smiling. ‘Where are you?’
Then I heard a faint laugh in the corner.
‘Oh, there you are. I am so lucky to find you today,’ I said.
She was seated on an old Victorian looking couch. It reminded me of the furniture in my mother’s living room. We could only sit on it when company came. So, I jumped at the opportunity to sit next to this wonderful woman. Her hair was white and neatly brushed with an occasional wave gently reflecting the light from the nearby window. Her hands crossed on her lap resting on top of a knitted pink blanket that covered her legs. Two practical looking walking shoes peeked out at the bottom and a wooden cane was placed within her reach nearby.
‘It’s good to see you,’ she said. ‘I love when you come to visit.’
I was a bit surprised to hear her say that. I had never been here before. Maybe she was transferred her from another place and she remembered me.
‘It’s good to see you, too,’ I said.
‘You always brighten my day,’ she added.
I sat quietly for a moment trying desperately to remember if we had met before. I really love to remember names. It makes people feel good when you remember.Then I asked, ‘When was the last time I saw you?’
She turned her head away for a moment and then looking back at me, she said, ‘Oh, we’ve never met, you and I. But I know you by heart.’
How curious. We never met, but she knows me by heart.It must have been the look on my face that caused her to explain further.
‘There is something about people like you. You are the ones who carry the world on your back. When you walk in a room you make us smile. When you touch my hand I can feel the warmth in your heart. People like you bring flowers, music and sunshine. Even when you bring nothing at all, you leave so much behind’
I was humbled and at a loss for words.
‘My, I thank you for saying that,’ I said. ‘When you said, I know you by heart, I naturally felt like I must have met you before.’
‘I know you by heart, because I always did the same thing. I always put others first,’ she said.
There it was again. ‘Putting others first.’
Then I shared, ‘I heard someone say – what you do for others you do also for yourself.’
‘I am living proof of that,’ she said. ‘You see, after all that time, after all that caring it all came back to me. People like you now visit me and I know you by heart.’
Lk 6:44 “For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.”