By Sister Karen Zielinski, OSF
“If you shift your focus from yourself to others, extend your concern to others, and cultivate the thought of caring for the well-being of others, then this will have the immediate effect of opening up your life and helping you to reach out.”
― Dalai Lama XIV
Our Sister Act walk team just participated in its 22nd MS walk. On a crisp, spring Sunday morning, we gathered at the University of Toledo’s Health Building and walked (or just were present at the event) to raise money for MS research, and programs.
Over 2,000 walkers, some living with Multiple Sclerosis, or those affected by the disease (caregivers, medical staff, family members and friends) gathered to make a little dent in curing this devastating disease.
The whole event showed the power of giving back to others, despite our fate in life.
Many people who live with a disease do the same. They give back to their brothers and sisters. People, who are cancer survivors, walk and raise awareness of cancer research and programs. If they cannot walk or donate funds, they volunteer at events, stuff envelopes, or bake cookies. They give their time some way.
In Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 12: 41-44 we hear of the poor widow’s contribution:
He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
Some give time or treasure to their parish programs, to schools and institutions (like Lourdes University or the many Ministries of the Sisters of St. Francis). Persons facing life problems, financial losses or illnesses can offer gifts to society with an attitude of “What can I do for you?” Looking to others can be a healing shift in our lives.
Sally Feehan recently lost her job and is behind on her mortgage payments. Still, she never misses her church soup luncheon where she cooks for the homeless.
Matthew Mark Kruse rarely misses ushering the noon Mass each Sunday. Wearing a suit and tie, he has been ushering at his church for over 10 years. The 57-year-old man offers his services to his parish and takes pride in his duties: giving out song books before the service, passing the collection basket, guiding parishioners down the right aisles for communion, and passing out church bulletins as people leave. Matthew has Down’s syndrome and the mental retardation that goes along with it.
We all face tough issues in our lives. But miraculously, focusing on helping others can shift our well-being for the better. It is ironic, but true. Shifting our concentration from our personal world to others can be most healing. We might ask:
What can I do?
I recently gave a small donation to a charity and received a “Thank you” pin and card in the Mail. The words on the card, from Eleanor Roosevelt, inspired me:
“Some people give time, some money, some their skills, and connections. Some, literally, give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give.”
Wise words, Eleanor!