Tuesday, April 08, 2008

ordinary and unnoticed

Given the over abundance of in your face reality shows where we learn the nitty gritty details of the lives of others, the soul exposing talk shows where nothing seems sacredly kept secret ..... given our collective penchant to put our personal stuff out in cyberspace through blogs, websites, on facebook and myspaces ......... given our ability to talk it up, share it, express it, promote, float and denote it all, it's surprising to consider just how many people are out there living a full and giving life unnoticed. Not only that, they don't care if they are noticed. No public recognition is wanted and none is given. No newspaper articles are written about them because the activities they perform seem so tiny..........so ordinary that it doesn't make for a good story. Their unnoticed lives don't sell papers. It's not why they do what they do. Yet, they are the solid backbone of our villlages, towns and cities doing all that they do. Their tiny offerings thread together to form the essence of what community is all about.

For an hour twice a week, a 45 year old woman steps out of her busy life and work schedule to deliver hot meals to seniors. Her family is aware that she does this, but even her friends don't know.

Every Wednesday, two university students take the bus across town to spend a couple of hours running a reading program in a public housing community centre. They had learned about the need for volunteers and decided to take up the challenge.

A retired gentleman found out last summer that a handfull of men who were living in rundown rooming houses had been given the opportunity to move into brand new one bedroom subsidized apartments. Without being asked, he rented a van and helped move them all into their new homes. This same man hand delivers Christmas hampers to 50 families in need.

Invisibly doing tiny tasks unnoticed.

A Dad takes a late lunch so he can spend an hour helping out at his son's school library on Thursday afternoons. He's grown fond of one little boy who stood apart from his classmates, a little rough around the edges. Now they meet to catch up on the latest sports scores and to read a new book they choose together.

A group of stay at home Moms meet on Tuesday mornings at the same school to count the change and to put the hot lunch orders together for the whole school. They've been doing it for a couple of years now, and have all become friends who stay in touch throughout the week.

On Sundays several people from the same congregation meet in the church kitchen to make dozens of sandwiches and sweets that they will deliver to many marginalized people who live in rooming houses throughout the city. A neighbour offers to tutor the child next door in math.

Quietly walking the talk unnoticed.

A woman who is paid minimum wage for her 20 hours a week part-time job at the Methadone clinic stretches her days into nights ensuring the local street people are all accounted for. She always checks under the bridge to make sure the guy who has a tendancy of passing out has left for the shelter.

The young couple prepare dinner together on Friday nights. Just before they sit down to enjoy their meal, one of them runs a wrapped portion of it next door to the elderly lady who lives alone.

The teenager takes it upon herself to get up early after a snowstorm to shovel her neighbour's driveway. She knows they have had a rough winter health wise.

Last summer an elderly man who had lived in the same rooming house room for close to 25 years passed away. He had lived the last years in a wheelchair, bound to oxygen because of his emphysema. Every Sunday afternoon a nice person from the church down the street showed up with a delicious sandwich and a sweet. He always looked forward to the simple meal, more so because he found it was always delivered by the same someone who was a smiling friendly angel. His death was unnoticed by many, except the others who lived in the building and the friendly faced weekly angel.

Somehow, despite living on a meagre monthly cheque, he managed to scrape and save 5oo dollars over the years..............his unnoticed life savings. A couple of weeks after he passed away, a letter arrived to the church down the street. In it was a letter from this man's son informing the church pastor that 500 dollars was donated to the sandwich program so that others would know the feeling of being served a meal by a smiling angel.

And so it goes.................quietly, signficantly magnificent.


Open Grove Claudia said...

Yes! I just wrote my TT about my kindness project. So much goes on that is unnoticed. It's not surprising people get depressed. Who wouldn't if you didn't know that an army of people do ordinary acts every day. Thanks for pointing this out! :)

Awareness said...

It is what makes our communities tick. It is how we live the ideals of our faith. There are no little faeries flying about doing these acts.....it's just regular folk. My feeling is that more people need to be aware of the unnoticed acts or ordinary folk so that perhaps they too will join in.

A friend of mine said something to me recently when we were on a walk. She talked about her Meals on Wheels volunteering, which she really enjoys doing.......though she's been involved in more visible national and international causes in the past, the very act of taking someone who can't leave their home a meal is much more personally satisfying because she knows immediately that it has helped someone.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Beautifully put reminder. Reminds me of the verse that says don't let one hand no what the other is doing. I agree with you, we need more good news to like this about ordinary people doing kind acts OUT OF KINDNESS (with no secret motivation for accolades).

Mark said...

You did a wonderful job illustrating how so many everyday heroes do what they do because they are moved to do so. These people have such a positive impact on others and themselves by giving freely of their time, talents and resources. This is the love that that makes our world a wonderful place to be!
Thank-you for this beautiful post.

Gypsy said...

Just catching up on your last few posts Dana. This so perfectly demonstrated that there are some truly decent, loving people in the community who give of themselves selflessly every day for no other reason than the joy of helping a fellow human being.

I also loved the post about Carla. How lucky these people are to have found you in their corner.

Awareness said...

Layla.....as Claudia pointed out, there is an army of people out there quietly making a difference. I love knowing that.

Mark, when I think of the examples I know of, many of these people are connected to a church or a religion.....or their own unique spiritual path. But, there is a presence of a Higher Power. He doesn't let it go unnoticed.

Gypsy....good to see you! There are many arent there, when you stop to think about it?
I found the phrase "unnoticed life/life unnoticed" in a book by Mike Yaconelli entitled Messy Spirituality. He describes some examples of people doing tiny important things and it moved me to stop and think about some of the people I know of.
ps. glad you liked my piece on Carla. :)

Under there... said...

The really profound and significant things and people are always unnoticed. The most important things never make it into the media or get the applause of the crowds. Thank you for applauding here on your blog! What a great post.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a wonderful story and how true that there are "angels" everywhere, quietly taking care of people in need who would not be taken care of without them....wether it is a sandwich or shoveling snow...That someone's see's a need and quietly fills it---These are the unsung Hero's of the world!

paris parfait said...

Yes! Such goodness shared by all these kind souls. Thanks for telling these important stories. You are a marvel. xoxox

Carmi said...

When I was a kid, I studied tzedakah, the Jewish philosophy of charity, rather extensively. I learned that there are many degrees of giving, and nothing is more revered than charity that is done quietly, without expectation of recognition.

Which explains why I inwardly cringe when I see buildings with people's names on them and other high-profile pat-myself-on-the-back forms of self-servitude. It's the anonymous, subtle ways we reach out to each other that matter most.

As always, you've captured the sentiment perfectly.

Hope you'll drop by...there's good news for you on my blog.