Today I was listening to an interview with Martin Sheehan, (President Bartlett, TV Series “West Wing,” among other things) sharing his lesser known life as a spiritual seeker and activist. During the conversation, he describes being a young actor living on $5 a week in New York City, being able to survive through supplements such as a soup kitchen, which provided him five meals a week.
He shared that this soup kitchen was run by Dorothy Day, a Pacem in Terris Peace recipient, who went on to become a key figure in the Catholic Worker Movement among other civic activism. He laughed at sharing this, as he went on to say, “… so I started going there. For months and months, I went there. I had no idea — I could’ve met Dorothy Day, but I couldn’t tell you, because I wasn’t there for any other reason but to satisfy my hunger.”
At this confession, it struck me how many times in our day each of us is around greatness, unaware that we are in its presence. We are so wrapped up in our own whatever, that the greatness of those around us goes unnoticed, lost in the background of some thing we need, some thing we are doing, some place we must reach.
Just for Today, you are requested to pay attention for the greatness around you. As you go about your day, pause while you do what you do, go where you go, and look to witness greatness.
We place our attention on greatness after the fact. It seems only in the accumulation of actions that someone radiates greatness, i.e. Thomas Merton, Katherine Johnson, to name a couple. The accumulated deeds of people over long life spans; the Dorothy Days, the Nelson Mandelas. They overshadow the day-to-day greatness so many people exhibit as they go about living a normal life.
- The mother juggling child care and work yet finding time to cook for her neighbor.
- The father holding down three jobs to support his family yet coaching his daughter’s softball team.
- The nonagenarian sustaining their independence and being of value to their community as they enter the twilight of their years.
- The teenager who gives an afternoon of time for a school buddy to help with football practice.
It surrounds us every day. There are so many things, so many ways, that greatness is exemplify on a daily basis.
It exists in the small gesture. The older man who holds a door open for the mother endeavoring to get her stroller through the door, while her two-year-old is pulling at her. Appreciate you are viewing greatness in this action as you are beholding two souls connecting, if for just a brief moment.
Whatever working you are doing this day, notice the person next to you as they reveal generosity of spirit or a solution that is just perfect or a perspective that makes so much sense. For this twenty-four hour time period, you are asked as you go about your day, pause and see the greatness in the every day.