New Year, New Discoveries.
It came to my mind automatically, “Don’t let the blind guy escape.”
If you’ve never really discovered yourself, listened to the whisper within, and acted on it…you’re missing out on a pretty damn good ride.
After I retired from my police career I thought I’d do something different, something that came from a place inside, a place avoided or at least ignored. So I had a little chat with myself.
What do you really like to do, love to do? What gives you the most satisfaction? You only go around once, ya know!
I grew to like being a cop. Sure, there were satisfactions in police work: arresting people that were harming us by taking our property or worse, physically hurting us, helping people who were hurt, sometimes in minor ways but sometimes who were in life threatening situations. Very satisfying!
Even in my civilian life I recall moments of helping that stand out, moments decades long gone.
One such moment was a day after having a tiff at home, I left the house and headed for my refuge and avenue of meditation, the shore. I was on Robert Moses Causeway heading south when I came upon an older couple on the side of the road trying to change a flat tire. I pulled over.
The grass on the shoulder was wet from rain, the ground soft so the jack wouldn’t do its job well. I did some jiggering of the situation to make it work and changed the tire for them. They were very grateful but not as grateful as I was for them being there for ME. I thank them to this day.
I expended some pent up energy, sure, and that felt physically good. But I also healed a part of me that was aching. I felt emotionally satisfied after doing something good for someone. I felt that I had converted a lot of bad energy to beneficial action.
That bad energy was there in me at times, built up stress and frustrations. That energy needed release. It’s obviously not good to harbor it and when I expended it in a good place, that was pretty good feeling. Simply put, it felt good to do some good!
Now that incident was a long time ago but apparently it was very instructive to me in how I looked inside and saw what worked for me. That’s obvious because I’m vividly recalling it now, decades later, to tell you about it.
I decided to explore this insight a little more. I volunteered to work in my Parish’s Outreach, Our Lady of Lourdes in West Islip, NY, then later at St. Mary’s in East Islip. Parishes have changed the name through the years from Outreach to Parish Social Ministry but I still think of it as “Outreach” because that’s what it primarily does, It reaches out.
My first memorable step with the Outreach was to go with another volunteer to bring some food and have a visit with a parishioner who is blind.
I had never gone to a house under these benevolent circumstances before. As we pulled to the curb it was reminiscent of knock-on-doors investigation days where I’d have my old partner with me and we were going to pick somebody up on a warrant. It actually crossed my mind to say, “You knock, I’ll cover the back.”
Yes, it was evocative of other times but in all the thousands of houses I visited back then, never did I approach one ladened with groceries.
Inside, we chatted, asked about well being, and left the bags of food. I walked ahead while the other volunteer said goodbye at the door. I looked back, the blind man was hugging him. Never saw an investigation end quite like like that before.
My second memorable step toward helping and maybe awakening was volunteering for the Thanksgiving and Christmas projects of Our Lady of Lourdes church. I assisted in facilitating the giving of gifts and baskets of food from the better-off of the parish to those not-so-well-off.
In the past I admired from a distance the work that people involved in helping did but I didn’t know the extent of it on a personal level.There is a lot of work that goes into such a project that the Outreach Coordinators and volunteers do but I won’t go into that here. Suffice to say, they draw from a very deep well of personal good will.
But as the project wound down to the days before Thanksgiving and Christmas when families would bring baskets of food, followed by those picking up the baskets; I was very surprised at my response.
My anticipation was to see how grateful the recipients were and I’d be there to witness such a moment. That did happen, recipients were grateful but it was not the momentous experience I would discover.
My awe was over the givers whose faces glowed, eyes wide with exhilaration. The old, the young, the lone, the families; all showed up with baskets or boxes in varying degrees of bulk and beauty, each to his own family’s resource’s and capability.
I saw cars, old and new show up with cartons or baskets of food, pickups with food to the gunnels in their beds, vans packed with moms and dads and kids and food,
I recall families walking from their cars to the donation hall with kids looking up at their parents in absolute joy. They’d be walking side by side to dads or moms toting huge baskets of food, some even covered in colored cellophane, a big bow at the top. So much love as well as food went into all of them.
What an example those parents were setting. How happy were those children to be part of the giving. What an influence it would have on the future of those children. What significance, such acts would collectively have on humankind. How fortunate, how gratified I was to be witness to such sharing, such human beneficence, such love.
Each New Year since those days of early awakening I have taken to new explorations. It all began as a curious questioning and fascination with what was found inside me. I learned so much that was beneath the surface of work good people do every day. I learned so much that was beneath the surface of myself too.
I’m grateful to have listened to myself, I didn’t realize I had so much to say.
I wish you all a Happy New Year and maybe a Year…New with discovery.
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