Finding the Helpers

Friday morning I was writing at Starbucks when two unlikely missionaries sat down at a nearby table. They were a pair of men of Romanian descent, one of whom was a war vet. The other apparently spent time behind bars before "walking with the Lord," and they were both dressed for a hard day of work at a place like Home Depot in jeans and flannel shirts, though it sounds like they may have been headed off on a mission. Their talk of dented cars, past girlfriends and sneaking the holy book (written in Pashtun) into Afghanistan was sprinkled liberally with "Praise the Lord"s and more than a few comments about the Lord's mysterious ways.

At one point, a patron unwittingly dropped his Starbucks card and left coffee in hand, but cardless. One of the missionary men picked up the card and rushed to follow the rightful owner of the card into the parking lot to return it.

Around the time I peeked over my screen to catch a glimpse of the man's act of kindness, twenty young children were horrifically murdered along with six dedicated professionals from the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Of course, none of us knew this at the time. It was a day like any other until I arrived home about an hour later and settled in at my desk. It tuned out to be one of the darkest days since September 11, 2001.

As always, Mr. Rogers has reassuring advice, even for adults. In fact, you may have seen this quote from Fred Rogers pop up in your Facebook stream:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
When I read this, I thought of the missionary man and his actions earlier that day. I'm glad I had seen a helper earlier in the day, even if his action was relatively minor. No doubt there were many helpers in Newtown on Friday, but I can't bear to think of the emergency first responders and what they witnessed. Or what it would be like to support a friend whose child had been murdered.

My heart goes out to and grieves with the affected families. I borrow these words from President Obama:

"I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depth of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope that it helps for you to know that you are not alone in your grief."
Please consider making a donation to a special fund to help the Newtown/Sandy Hook community via United Way of Western Connecticut.

Please also consider giving Noah's Ark of Hope fundraiser which was set up in memory of a blogging colleague's nephew who was killed in the senseless shooting. The funds will be used used to provide counseling and services to his siblings, two of whom were at school that day, including his twin sister.

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