Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Since my retirement, I am now able to read the daily newspaper in a more leisurely and thoughtful way. At times, the reading leads to contemplation. Today, as I scanned the pages of the New York Times, my heart sank. The economy -the failure of major banks and financial institutions -the weather-hurricanes sweeping through Texas and Haiti-a frightening photograph of a crowd of Indonesians being swept away by a stampede which trampled to death twenty one people in the rush to receive a four dollar handout from a wealthy landowner during Ramadan-persistent acts of violence and terror in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan-left me in a state of despair and powerlessness. What is one person to do in the face of these overwhelming crises? So much injustice, so much suffering and unfairness, so much apparent randomness and chaos!
Then I turned the page and my eye riveted on a photograph of an elderly white woman standing alongside two young Afro-American boys , measuring their height.I plunged into the words of the article and as I read my heart began to emerge from its dark depths and soar into the light of hope and renewed possibility.
One 84 year old grandmother, by adopting youngsters who had no natural families they could depend upon, was able to make an extraordinary difference in these children's lives.I learned that there many programs are in place that fund and foster such engagements of care and love. Imagine, I thought, if the growing millions of senior adults, many of whom have no grandchildren of their own, could adopt the millions of children who need grandparents to love and care for in a way that only grandparents know how. What a different world this would be.
For a few moments,I forgot about Wall Street, and was uplifted by this inspiring, everyday possibility of Main Street America and beyond.
It goes without saying that we should never forget the ills of the world; to do so would be a response either of denial or outright callousness.
But, to be grateful for a genuine and ordinary opportunity to bring light into our individual worlds is to discover a path of inspiration and hope, a way to elevate our souls in spite of the lurking darkness that surrounds us.
I am grateful to this woman for not only bringing strength into young people's lives but also for shedding her radiance of goodness upon so many who have read her story.

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