“for I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Matthew 25: 35-36.
In these dog days of August, when the elite are still reading that last summer book in their swimsuit and thongs, resting lazily in that lounge chair and broad-brimmed hat along the beach at Martha’s Vineyard, when the news out of Washington and much of the world is so petty, mean, and often silly, we can pause and remember what really matters in our world. Whatever our own personal troubles, there is always someone who needs help more than we do. That is in itself comforting and energizing.
We can talk to our families and become our own community and citizen action teams. We can as individuals become dispensers of justice and kindness. Bag up those canned goods and pasta meals and drive over to the local food bank and drop them off along with a check to cover the rest. Go through all those clothes you have no need for and give them to Goodwill and the Disabled American Veterans. Stop and help a stranger: someone you don’t even know. A month ago I lost a tremendous opportunity. It was a downpour. The buckets, dogs, and cats were all falling and a guy was looking for a ride and to get out of the wet rain. I did not pick him up. I could have. Shame on me. Do something kind for someone you do not know today and every single day. Seek them out. Be an outlaw for kindness and strike fast and decisively. Buy that lemonade or Kool Aid from that kid on the corner no matter if he is gouging you like they do these days. Give the drink to someone else on the street who looks tired and thirsty. Invite someone to your home for dinner who would like the company and the break from making a meal. Suggest to your church or social club, or social circle, that a group go out and visit the nearest prison, (the United States has the most people imprisoned in the world) and simply give them some company, ask what they need, and try to provide it, and do some good.
There was a man in our town who always walked everywhere. He said he did it to get exercise. He sure did. Mr. Birtchard was a World War I vet and he and his wife had only enough retirement to stay in their home and that was all. My mother always picked him up and gave him a ride to town or back again and we always got a great story and some good advice from a man wise in years and experience. And he got the feeling he mattered in the world once again. He did and does you know.
So bag up that extra food, make that meal, offer that drink, send out some clothing, visit a prisoner, do some wantonly unpredictable act of kindness today: one of these wasted, dog days of August that no one seems to use properly. Take citizen action, or community action with your friends or family.
For I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.