I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
And I will not let what I cannot do, interfere with what I can do.
– Edward Everett Hale
When I come across some words of wisdom, I have made a habit of printing them out so that I can reflect on them from time to time. These words, from Edward Everett Hale, hold great wisdom for me and I want to share them with you.
Edward Everett Hale was born in April of 1822, in Boston. He was the grand-nephew of Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War hero executed by the British for espionage, and related to Helen Keller. He is most well-known as the author of the short story, The Man Without a Country. Edward excelled in school, graduating from Boston Latin School at the age of 13, and second in his class at Harvard College at 17. After attending Harvard Divinity School, he began preaching as a Unitarian minister at the age of 20. During the Civil War, Edward supported the Union efforts through his short stories and other fiction published in the Atlantic Monthly and Christian Examiner. He supported many social justice causes, especially the anti-slavery movement, adult public education, and religious tolerance throughout his life. He died in 1909 at the age of 87, but his words of encouragement live on.
There are times when the multitude of problems we face can be overwhelming. The complexity of our world and the enormity of its needs can make us feel as if one person could never make a difference. Why bother trying to help when we can do so little? It is tempting to focus on our limitations, rather than our resources. It is hard to imagine that any one person could do enough to matter. And yet, when each one of us does the small part we can do, change does happen. When one person changes his/her behavior, others around him/her will eventually change, too. It may be slow, almost imperceptible change, but it will happen. We need not, and cannot, do everything but each of us can do something to make the world a kinder, wiser, more welcoming place to be.
In his sermon for the District Conference, the Rev. John Boley, Assistant to the Bishop, invited us to “throw beauty at the world”. In the midst of the anxiety, violence, fear and division in our world, he said we can make a difference by choosing to show the beauty of God’s love and grace. Each act of faith, kindness, generosity, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, or love “throws beauty” at a hurting and angry world.
So, what will YOU do? How will you choose to “throw beauty” at the world? What “something” will you do today? Perhaps you will bring joy, or peace, or laughter, or wonder to those around you. Perhaps you will comfort one who is suffering, or love an enemy, or feed a stranger. Perhaps you will be an advocate, or a protestor, or a mediator. Whatever it may be, let’s throw beauty at the world like hands full of confetti, and watch God’s love fall upon all of us in abundance!
Shalom, Pastor Cathi
“Look up and not down, look forward and not back,
Look out and not in, and lend a hand.”
– Edward Everett Hale