So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Colossians 3:12 (The Message)
I am an orchid champion. Not a grower of champion orchids but a champion for orchid rights. Ever since I read a blog post about seeing orchid plants crammed into too small pots discarded in the clearance bin of the hardware and grocery stores simply because it has quit blooming, I have felt compelled to join in the effort to rescue mistreated orchids. We have been spending a lot of time in hardware stores as we have been fixing up our home, and I never fail to find a poor collection of orchids looking miserable and neglected. With roots crawling out of their little pots like arms reaching for love, they call to me, “Take us home and nurture us.” Before I could tend to them, I had to first clean up my own home. For years, I have had orchids hanging from trees suffering from my benign neglect. It’s Florida, I reasoned. They are tropical and perfectly capable of surviving on their own. But, this blogger inspired me to tend to them, putting them into bigger pots, making sure that they get watered regularly and placing them out of the sun’s heat. After splitting, I really had enough orchids of my own to care for, but then, there are still the poor sad hardware store ones in need of love. I bought some of the sale ones and moved them into new pots. With tender loving care, I hope to revive them. Despite the tags that they are easy to grow, I bought an orchid book to make sure I am a good caregiver. My collection is growing, but my wallet is shrinking. It occurred to me yesterday after I drug still another plant and a large pot home that I cannot save all the leftover orchids in the world. I remember a story about a child throwing back one starfish after another when thousands of starfish were washed onto a beach. When admonished it was better not to try as they couldn’t save them all, the child replied, “But I can save that one.” Here’s the real crux of my dilemma. I can get all wound up about saving the orchids or the whales or stray cats and dogs. Yes, it will matter to the ones I can keep alive and helps to improve the world. I demonstrate my compassion through my efforts. But, what really counts are the human beings I help to reassure, comfort and influence. How many times do I walk right past someone who could use what I have whether it is money, a hug, a smile or a hand up? How many times do I turn the other way because I am in a hurry or have an agenda of my own? Perhaps even to save the orchids. There is suffering all around me. When I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude, the best place to start is with who is in front of me. And work to save just one. And then, another.