Many times, we meet people, who walk in and out of our lives in different capacities; teachers, friends, neighbours, watchman, boyfriends, spouses. Many at times, some will touch us in a way that we will never forget. They may be there for a short while, or for eternity, but the impact they leave makes us different people eternally. They introduce an attitude that we never had before, and make us wiser, stronger, kinder, learned, and better human beings. Many of us have probably come across the following poem at one point in time…
“One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it: “LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”The LORD replied: ‘My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.’”
Taking stock of our lives we can sometimes see ourselves writing this poem. Problem comes in realizing how exactly God carried us on his shoulders. Many of us don’t even take stock of our lives and we miss out in this realization. Many still do take stock and instead of realizing the blessings behind the sorrow and low moments, carry the pain much longer than when supposed to. This makes us miss the lesson, miss the blessing, miss the Graces but mostly miss the realization that God really does carry us through the tough times. Missing this realization makes us fail to be thankful for the tough times.
I remember the early months of last year when I walked into a clinic for a regular check up on my ante natal clinic only to be told “madam, I hope you are aware that you are not going to home today”, my reply was the obvious, “you are joking, right”, and the stern worried doctor says, “no, which hospital do you want us to admit you”… There followed a serious of denial statements to the doctor and a very firm concerned doctor whose resolve could not be changed, which was in the end good for me. I left his hospital with an admission letter. I felt very lonely at that moment. I remember walking to the casualty of the hospital I was to be admitted to and sitting at the entrance wondering what to do next. I made one phone call and wrote one text; phone call to my friend Agatha, text to my friend doctor. All I know is after that, things seemed to fall in place, like a puzzle had just been solved. I still got admitted for some time and was put on bed rest for a month before baby came but everything was to be fine. My heart was at peace. Fast forward my story a month later, baby boy came, but I got slight complications with my episiotomy and I was in so much pain I could barely do anything for myself. My first house help was a darling. She did her job excellently and I can confidently say, she did beyond that which I paid her to do. With all the dramas that they come with and with all we know, I had a perfect girl with me, nurturing my baby and I to good health. I saw, and still see the hand of God through all that. I was probably in my lowest most helpless state, but God carried me through it all, literally on His shoulders.
How does God carry us on his shoulders; He brings people in our lives to make the baggage we carry light. I know all of us have looked back and said, I wouldn’t have made it through that time without so and so’s help. I could not have hacked it if my mom had not called me every night to give me words of inspiration. I could not have made it alone. I came through because my friend came to see me daily, hugged me many times, held me in her arms when I cried and gave me loads and loads of words of encouragement. When Christ made this promise in John 14:16, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you”, he meant every word. But how many times do we miss the grace of his presence just because his ‘helper’ is not packaged the way we would want him to be. How many times do we refuse to be carried because we are afraid to admit we need help? How many times do we sink in the pit because we are afraid to take the offered hand? When will we stop believing that we can do it on our own and let people help us through? I must admit that this world has brought forth the notion that we should not trust each other, but I also believe that the angels of God are the people we interact with every day.
All of us have stories to tell. No matter how much tears we shed when we tell these stories, there always is the light in the story. The cab driver who gave you a ride when you dint have a coin to your name when you tarmacked, the matatu driver who understood when you told them umesanywa, the kind relative who came to stay with you just because you needed someone to be with you, the darling friend who prays with you when you don’t have the strength to pray for yourself, the loving husband whose presence never wavers, whose support, no matter how weak he is himself, never falters, that friend who cheers you on as you pick yourself up… All Christ, carrying you on His shoulders through the angels he sends your way.
The other question is how many times do we actually go out of our way and help those we encounter in the name of Christ, that is, not taking the glory for ourselves? A Roman saying goes “We should give as we would receive: cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.”An old lady of about 70 walks to you at Holy Family Basilica on a Saturday morning and u are walking out from the adoration chapel, rushing to run an urgent errand and asks you for the direction to some place, instead of giving her many directions that include many right and left turns that will leave her confused, you walk her there yourself and proceed on your way to wherever you are going. In the end she tells you, ‘May God remember you when you get to my age’. What a nice feeling. How many blessings do we miss, just because we are too busy to be kind? Take time to visit and talk to your friend who has been unwell, praying for someone diligently (yes, I have learnt that the most selfless thing I can do is pray for someone. Most of the time, prayers are a selfish but very intimate way of presenting our wish list to God, ranting to him because things are not going the way we want them to, giving him thanks for the great things happening in our lives…me, me, me… So if among this selfish needs and intimate moment you can bare yourself, and bring in someone else and bare their needs too, that is kind, very kind), smiling at that man in the gate, giving a complement, saying thank you ( I recently discovered it tears me up), giving to the needy etc. What do we lose by being kind? Off the record, we shouldn’t be kind because we want blessings; we should be kind for kindness’ sake.
There are so many kind things we can do, not even necessarily going out of our way. Anyhow when you learn to be kind, acts of kindness become a norm, and it won’t feel like you are going out of your way any more. It’s just being yourself, doing what you are supposed to do diligently and hardworkingly. If you are a friend, be a true friend, if you are a colleague, be a good one, if you are a classmate, be a classmate, if you are a partner, be a partner. Do it well, and in your doing, you will end up being the miracle someone needed to see her to the next day. By doing, when the other party takes stock of their lives, they will remember that at one moment in time, God carried them in His shoulders through their interaction with you. As Kevin Heath says, “Wherever there is a human need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference”. I have ridden on the shoulders of great people, great because anyone who lets you ride on their shoulders have a greatness in them. I am probably what my friend Agatha calls a spoilt child of God. I pray that I can be that shoulder for someone. May we be those persons, those persons who ensure that only one set of footprints appear in the sand when the troubles come in the wake of those we encounter…