Just watch, divine intervention

2009 July 22
by Don Hammack

I do a little volunteer work one day a week before going into work. It’s only about 2-1/2 hours, so I’m not challenging Mother Teresa. The work, however, challenges me, teaches me things, reveals new lessons.

And every now and then, there’s something special.

Sometimes it’s a smile from a kid in the lobby. Sometimes it’s just a thank you for having done something so tiny you wish you could improve on it 100 times over. I’m a small part of the impressive St. Vincent de Paul Society machinery at Our Lady of Fatima. I work as a caseworker for the homeless; there are others who help those needing assistance with food, rent, utilities, medicines, clothing and other necessities.

Today, as I was trying to hang on by my fingernails, John stopped me. He’s a volunteer who was preparing tray after tray of sandwiches for lunch bags we hand out. “Somebody just gave me this watch for the visually impaired,” he said. I’ve only been volunteering there for about a month, so I said thanks while mentally trying to figure out what to do with it. I really had no clue.

I put the watch down on my desk as a couple of more people came through, then had to go into another office to get bus passes to help someone make an appointment. As I walked in, Mary Frances was interviewing someone. (Folks come every day asking for Sister Mary Frances. She laughs and says she’s not a sister, although her ability to find calm in the face of a panicking volunteer ranks her near sainthood, at least in this panicking volunteer’s eyes.)

They were talking about the woman’s vision problems, how doctors thought a cataract surgery had accelerated the onset of macular degeneration and how young she was for that to have happened already. She had a folding cane sitting under her purse in the seat next to her. My next trip in, I brought the watch and asked if she could use it. They said they’d just been talking about how she’d needed one.

So, in the matter of a half-hour or so, the watch had come in the front door from somebod (who I’ll never know), to John (who really was as confused as to what to do with it as I was), to me (who just happened to cross a hallway by happenstance), to a person who could really use it.

We go through life looking for things we “need.” Usually it’s just things we want. Sometimes, though, what we really need winds up in our hands. That lady’s unexpected gift is proof. It happens more than we realize, I’m sure. I’ll bet that’s how it’s supposed to be, too.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. 2009 July 22
    billy permalink

    Thank you

  2. 2009 July 23
    Jean P permalink

    Oh, I think that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. We get our knickers in a bunch about breaking commandments, and that’s bad, to be sure. But God knows we’re weak humpers. We will do that more than once. The things that will get us into and out of “trouble” are the little things we do, the links in the chain we become, the ways in which we change people’s lives for the better, no matter how small the gesture or intervention. Kudos, Hammer. By George, you’ve got it.

  3. 2009 July 23
    Jean Prescott permalink

    I think that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. Oh, we should keep the commandments and avoid the 7 deadly sins, but the things that will keep us out of “trouble” with Mr. Big are the little things, the small, often tiny things we do that make people’s lives better, make them feel better about themselves, make them pay it forward. Those are the truly important things.

  4. 2009 July 23
    Jeanne Thames permalink

    What a great story, Don! Thanks–I needed that :-)

  5. 2009 July 23

    We used to have these when I worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, too. We called them “St. Jude Moments.” It’s amazing how God will use us if we just put ourselves in the position to be of help.

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