This morning I had an impromptu “Take Your Daughter to Work Day”. My wife had a few things to do out of the house early in the morning, and we decided to try to “lessen her load” by cutting her parenting responsibilities in half for the time she was out.
By the time we got in the car, my oldest had already voiced her excitement about - well - a lot of things; getting to go to work with daddy, the cool morning, her love for the cereal she ate this morning (by the way honey, if you’re reading this, we need more cereal) how much she liked sitting up high in my vehicle versus her mother’s …. you get the picture.
As we started out of the driveway with the windows rolled down and her still talking, I had my mind on writing this article - well, not THIS article but a different one. Suddenly, as we headed down one of the big hills between our house and the church I heard a “GASP!” I quickly reached for the brake with my right foot and checked my rearview mirror. “What is it? What’s wrong?” I asked somewhat alarmingly.
“There was a piece of litter back there in the trees” said the consternated voice. I breathed easier. “Oh” I said. Then she asked, “Why do people litter Daddy?”.
I was caught off guard and was silent for a moment. “Daddy?” asked the voice from the backseat. “Well” I said, “Why do you think people litter?” “I don’t know” she said, “That’s why I asked you.” (She’s already smarter than I am.) “I guess it’s because they haven’t been taught not to or they don’t care.” “GASP!” “How could people not care!” she shrieked.
“Good question, baby.”
And now we are here. Now, this is the article I am writing.
So much of what we do, we do because we care about something. To care about something, or someone, means that we have to open our hearts to it/them. We must intertwine our lives so that the “it” or “she or he” is now a part of our lives. We have to share space in our minds and our souls with whatever or with whomever.
But opening our hearts and our minds enough to care about someone or something means that we have left a chink in the armor—means that we have left ourselves vulnerable. But that is part of being human, isn’t it? To care means that we have created a relational value with an object or an ideology or (“Gasp!”) another human.
Caring is so much a part of what makes us human. When we stop caring, we lose a big chunk of our humanness.
When we devalue relationships with others, it hurts them and us. When we stop caring, we abandon part of what makes us human.
I think that caring is much of what the Gospel is about. Not devaluing things like creation, God’s love, or each other. Jesus cared enough to go through hell—and back. So yeah, I care, baby girl, I do. And I stopped and picked up that piece of trash (and a few others) on my way home.
Fr. Will ✝
Photo credit: Ben Edwards is a local artist and member of St. Theodore's Episcopal Church. Ben used materials from his household trash to make Arkansas Crossroads Quilt (right) and Chip Quilt (left), including Mylar snack bags, promotional merchandise bags, plastic wrap, polyurethane and glue. You can follow Ben on Instagram @benedwardsofficial.