“When you consider how to find meaning in your life, you probably think only the big moments count. But they all do. Whether you’re donating a million dollars to a worthy cause or saying a kind word to the checkout person at the grocery store, volunteering at the local soup kitchen, or just being considerate to the driver trying to enter the lane in front of you, everything you do has the potential for meaning.”
~David Kessler, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief, pg. 103
It’s a humbling thought—that everything we do has the potential for meaning. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about this week in light of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Whenever a public figure dies, it’s worth remembering that the person’s identity is more than just the office they held. There are various relationships that bring about grief for those who knew and loved them on a personal level. In the case of RBG, people are grieving her as a Supreme Court Justice and feminist icon, sure. Though people are also grieving her because she was their mother, grandmother, colleague, friend, etc.
The truth is that most people have roles and relationships. And we just never know how something we do can have meaning for another person. One of my favorite stories I read following the passing of Justice Ginsburg was from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s son, Christopher. Christopher Scalia shared a story that Judge Jeffrey Sutton had written, highlighting the friendship of Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg over the years. Apparently Judge Sutton was visiting Justice Scalia and when he got up to leave his chambers, Justice Scalia pointed out two dozen roses on a table and noted that he needed to take them down to his friend “Ruth” for her birthday. Sutton teased, “So what good have all these roses done for you? Name one five-four case of any significance where you got Justice Ginsburg’s vote.” Justice Scalia responded, “Some things are more important than votes.” (From Christopher J Scalia’s Tweets 9.19.20)
That act of one friend getting another friend roses for her birthday must have made quite the impression on Judge Sutton. And in sharing this story, it can certainly make an impression on all of us. It’s a meaningful story about friendship, and a friendship that perhaps seemed unlikely on the surface as Justice Ginsburg and Justice Scalia famously didn’t agree on many cases that came before the Supreme Court.
Just think as you go about your days this week—everything we do has the potential for meaning.
Our faith isn’t just about what we believe, it’s about what we do.
And you just never know who may be paying attention to a simple act of friendship.
(This Week’s Thoughts 9.24.20)