Today, I met a man cleaning the street

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Today, I met a man cleaning the street, while on my way over the office, where all of our non-essential staff is working from home. Our Leadership Team continues to work in our offices, meeting to continue our role in preparing and planning, looking out for our sisters, and learning with everyone else, about this pandemic that is changing the way we are in the whole wide world.  A virus six times more contagious than ordinary flu.

Yes, on my way over to the office, I met a man who was picking up the trash that always accumulates along Airport Drive. I just don’t get why people think it’s okay to toss bottles and paper and trash out their car window. But they do and every day I walk home from work stepping over litter.  And someone cleans it up every few days.   I finally found out who.  The man was from Davey Tree Company – they have a contract with us to cut the grass at our properties. I didn’t realize they keep our lawns litter free as well.

I said hello to the man picking up the trash, who said he usually works on another site, but that was closed down with this pandemic, and so he was keeping busy, working as he could. A small and thankless job, picking up trash. It made me aware of all the ways people are pitching in during this most unusual time. We see on the news:  people helping with school lunches for kids, deep cleaning public transit, people watching out for each other, citizens in Italy singing to each other on balconies.

Not to mention at all the health care workers, doctors, nurses, aides and helpers who are putting their lives on the line, managing the biggest health crisis in one hundred years.

Our own employees are being so creative in working from home, our essential staff members are managing to be sure our sisters are safe, cared for and fed. Generous, compassionate people who rise to the challenge of unusual times. This is what it means to be human. This is what we are made for.

The man I met today was polite, friendly and cheerful. He did not complain or whine about the present state of his circumstances.  He did not blame anyone or speak of being afraid.

This pandemic, horrible as it is and as concerning as it is, offers us a way to see each other, not as people hoarding hand sanitizer or toilet paper, but as human beings who care for each other and for the stranger.  It is a moment when political leaders can truly lead and set into motion actions that safeguard our citizens. It could be a moment of global transformation.

I am reminded that the Golden Rule can be found in virtually every spiritual tradition on the planet: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12)The golden rule is an ethic of reciprocity, a moral code that is basic to all human experience.  And since the times we are living in call for acts not only of kindness but of heroism, I hope that we can all be like the man cleaning the street today. Doing our part to keep faith, to keep calm and be at peace.  Looking out for someone else, even to pick up the trash, could save us all.


Posted in Weekly Word

11 responses to “Today, I met a man cleaning the street

  1. And for YOU, Anne, the “Voice” who helps us along the very daily way of moving towards Emmaus. Thank you.

  2. Thanks Anne,
    We can’t repeat your message enough.
    We all heard it and now we hear it with renewed ears.
    Thanks for your reflections.
    Maria, OP

  3. Thank you, Anne, I couldn’t agree with you more that this is a time of Transformation for us all if we choose life and not death. I pray we choose life.

    Blessings to you, the Leadership team and all God’s people who care for us so lovingly and Mother Earth,

  4. Such few words and such little signs of hope! They contain such power to lift the heart and encourage! Thank you for taking the time to share them

  5. Thanks, Anne, for the reminder not to complain or be afraid. We were asked today by S. Eloise in the dining room sitting two by two at the tables if we were enjoying our retreat. To tell you the truth it really is a good time for retreat to pray more double up on acts of kindness.

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