A few days ago, my parents went out to dinner in my hometown. As they were waiting for their meals, a woman came over to speak to my father. This happens all the time since he was a Principal at Wadsworth’s Middle School for 12 years and we had around 300 students in each class. It’s a family joke that going out to eat with my mom (retired Teacher) and dad (retired Principal) is like being out with two local celebrities. Anyway, this woman wanted to thank him for protecting her from a bully when she was in Middle School. She recalled that she would be targeted by the bully walking from the Middle School to our city’s Library. It’s a short walk, but unsupervised. The bullying became bad. She told my father about it and he proceeded to walk with her every day so that she would feel safe. She would meet him outside after school and they would walk and chat until she arrived inside the Library. And she wanted to thank him all these years later and tell him how much those walks with her Principal meant to her during a rough period in her life.
My father didn’t remember this well. For him (I’m quite sure) those after school walks were just part of his job as a Principal who did his best to look out for the safety and well-being of students. Yet, these walks clearly mattered a great deal to this woman who remembered and thanked him.
Now, sometimes people have said that ministers only have one sermon inside of us. And we just preach the same sermon over and over in different ways. I actually think there’s truth to that. Here’s mine: knowing what we believe as Christians is important, but if our words and actions aren’t a reflection of Jesus’ commandment to love God, love our neighbors, and love ourselves–then what’s the point? What we believe must affect how we act out in the world. Our faith must be embodied. We’re called to help God create heaven on earth. And last time I checked, Jesus’ entire life, ministry, death, and resurrection prove that love is the way.
Sometimes we never know how our words and actions can help another person on their journey. And sometimes we are lucky enough to have someone share the positive impact we’ve had on their lives. Either way, let’s remember those famous words from Ram Dass today: “we’re all just walking each other home.”
P.S. Whenever I share a story in a sermon or any other writing that involves family members, I always ask their permission before doing so. This story is shared with my father’s permission. And since my parents read This Week’s Thoughts—thanks for being you, Dad! I love you!
(This Week’s Thoughts 10.25.18)