September 21, 2005
Find a way to reach out to those in
What is the right response to victims of disasters?
Political, economic, cultural and natural catastrophes
shake the foundations of our lives, creating emotion-charged
memories that last a lifetime. But merely sympathizing
with those affected is not enough. We must do what we
can to help. Reaching out can be as personal as prayer
or as public as sending money, being available to listen
or serve in ways to heal and restore safe places to live.
I was struck by a watercolor painting by Sally Smith,
one called "A Dinghy Adrift" and inspired by
9/11. Immediately after the New York City attack, Sally
was unable to make contact with a member of her family,
a teacher whose classroom was very near to the Twin Towers.
Feeling helpless, like a "dinghy adrift," she
painted until she re-established contact and found, once
again, hope and confidence - the dependable mooring of
Shortly after 9/11, my wife, Jane, and I visited Sally's
gallery in Carmel and were moved by her story about when,
how and why the painting came into being. She said that
when one does not know what to do to help those closest
to them, or even whether they are alive or dead, it feels
like being a small boat without moorings. A few weeks
later, she phoned us and paid us a very special compliment,
saying that she would be pleased for her artwork to hang
in our offices.
A little while later, Sally presented us with her painting,
a visual reminder that each of us can be a lifeline for
someone. We can serve as a dependable mooring in a world
that sometimes appears to simply have gone mad.
So how do you avoid being "a dinghy adrift" yourself?
Sometimes you have to give before you get.
Victims, anywhere around the world, for any number
of reasons, need caring people to find to be there for
them, not just victims of hurricanes. If you are able,
then offer assistance.
Pray for the victims that they might manage their losses
and their health, enabling them to regain hope that integrity
is alive along with compassion. Become a dependable mooring
for others. With apologies to the original writers: "Do
unto others as they would have you do unto them."