Dealing with the current times can be overwhelming, sometimes scary, certainly threatening for some. I feel I may have an undiagnosed low grade case of the blues ever since the presidential election of 2016. With a self-proclaimed very stable genius of a chief executive, global climate deniers, terrorism, California wildfires and mudslides, it’s easy to get into a funk.
But what good does that do? Curling up in a fetal position solves little. Triangulating our complaints has little merit. So, Hannah and I have some thoughts for you to consider. Here goes.
My first reaction to the upheaval of the past year might be seen as not really very mature, but I think mildly effective. You decide. My knee jerk reaction to the presidential election of 2016 was for Hannah and me to give to organizations that the president had targeted for dismantling or compromising. Ergo, we gave to Planned Parenthood, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Maine Public Radio, a Santa Barbara Muslim community for rebuilding it’s mosque, and the Nature Conservancy. That’s fine, but hardly the proactive strategy we are looking for to address our hopes going forward.
As young marrieds in Tempe, Arizona in the 1970s, even then we knew we couldn’t save the world, but thanks to Hannah’s lead, we knew that we could give it a shot to make a difference in the lives of one person at a time.
The Hurricanes of the late summer of 2017 gave us a starting point. The trio of destruction, Harvey, Irma, and Maria, grabbed the nation’s and our attention, then shook it like a ragdoll, and for weeks and months turned the lives of so many upside down. It was just the impetus for us to donate to family and friends in Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico to have them find someone or sometwo who could use a small financial shot in the arm. We were just getting started.
Let me take a little side trip for a thought or two about praying, since politicians often speak that they are praying for the victims. I am all for praying. I pray. But praying for victims of natural or man-made disasters is just a start for me. Praying focuses my attention. Then there is the companion need for action. Where do the relief supplies, rebuilding, and ongoing support come from? One place is for individuals moved by the reports of the catastrophic damage. Another significant player is the spiritual community, the churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques, that rally to support their/our communities. They are all planting seeds! For me, prayer and action go hand in hand.
That leads us to the idea of a Planting Seeds. Leaving the big programs of world health and access to education for all to Bill and Melinda Gates and others, we’ve begun with two recent efforts.
First, at our kids’ suggestion, we all (New York and Maine Rothermels and Massachusetts Rawdings) are using our resources to support American citizens in Puerto Rico this holiday season. Thanks to our friend Elsa whom we met through our longtime Virginia friend, Amelia, we learned of the good work of Puerto Rico United; rather than giving Christmas presents, we gave the money to the ongoing relief effort in the Caribbean .
Elsa responded in part: Thank you again to the whole family for being so thoughtful and generous to my island. I hope one day you are all able to enjoy a hike in the only tropical rain forest in the US National Forest System (El Yunque National Forest). It was devastated, but it is already coming back to its green beauty. They are working very hard to rehabilitate the zone, so it can be open to the public again.
Second, Hannah and I have contacted ministers we know, here and away, to direct our donations to those in need.
Our note to them follows.
Can you do us a favor? Do you know a single mom, a single dad, a couple, or a family that could us some financial support this holiday season? Love and peace, Dan and Hannah
One emails back, Hey, thanks for the check! I promise to put it to good use! That’s very kind and generous of you! There’s a family in our church that’s really struggling. House repairs piling up. The church just replaced their hot water heater after finding out they’ve been without hot water since the beginning of summer. Three children, two of whom are special needs. Real worker-bees with very kind hearts. Your gift will truly be a blessing to them!!! Thank You!!
Another checks in, Your wonderful generosity has finally found a grateful recipient. Our Youth Director recently told me of a single Mom who attends from time to time that is in need of financial help. She was so thrilled to hear of this gift and I just now put it into cash with a card to her. Thank you so much, for reaching out across the miles to be a special blessing. Namaste.
A third response, Thank you, so much, for the generous gift. There is a single woman with small kids that comes to me several times a year for help. She is just the person that came to mind, and so I will pass your gift on to her. Sometimes she comes for help for rent or utilities, but sometimes at Christmas she comes because she has nothing to give her kids. Lord have mercy!
Finally, Thank you for your gift!!! We have so many people in this area – many in our church – who will be moved to tears with your gift. Whether it goes for food or heat or gifts for their kids. Your kindness will (and is!) so appreciated.
It doesn’t have to be much, $5 is a start. Let’s have coffee and explore what we can do together. I’m buying.
Plant seeds. We need more conversation than debate.