The phone rang today. At the other end a woman asked if we handled any rental property. As a real estate office, we handle the purchase and sale of property, but not really rentals. Some of our agents own rental property. After explaining this I offered to take her information and pass it on. What are you looking for? Do you have any pets? How long have you lived where your at now? Why do you need to move? How much can you pay in rent? Do you need a certain school district?
She and her husband are both applying for disability benefits and her uncle gets social security. Their son is in the same middle school as mine. They need at least two bedrooms. They used to run an animal rescue but had to close down; they still have two large dogs that they rescued and a Chihuahua that they’d like to keep if they can, she explains tearfully. They were just told that the owners of their home of over four years, sold the house and now they have to move. They pay $550 a month but she thinks they can go as high as $700. Their combined income is about $2200.
I tell her that I know of a small three bedroom house across from the grade school just around the corner from the middle school that has just become vacant. The previous renter needed something a little bigger since the birth of her third child and moved to a more spacious apartment with a pool. She plans to home school the kids but is having trouble with providing for the social needs of her middle school son and second grade daughter. She used to volunteer at the grade school, making popcorn and served on the board of the local PTA.
I fight the urge to collect them all. To open my arms and comfort their collective pains, to spend my mental energy solving their problems and making them my own. It seems such a small thing, give someone a ride to the store, to listen to someone else talk about issues with their teenage son, to counsel an abused mom, to have a safe home for the kids to come to that they know what the rules are and what to expect. Seeing the green mucus run from the nose of my friend’s son and knowing it’s the unhealthy childcare environment; what harm is there to take care of him myself and save her the hundreds of dollars I know childcare costs.
So much of this world could be better if more of us did just a little more to help. The instinct is there but we all fight it for fear of getting hurt.
Once while driving through town, traffic seemed unusually heavy. A red pick-up truck with a loaded camper on the back has stalled and the driver is pushing it by himself down the street. There is no street parking on this highway through town and his push has to round the next bend and then, maybe travel another block up the side street to possibly find a parking space to stop and evaluate the cause of the stall. But this poor man is pushing by himself, and the side street has a slight incline. How is he going to make it? Around him, car after car passes without even a honk. Eyes see his pain, the exertion, the sweat dripping in his eyes, as his small daughter try’s to steer. How many pass – before finally someone jumps out of the still moving van his wife is driving, and begins to push. Then someone else does the same. The wife drives to the private parking lot just around the corner and begs the gate guard to please let these poor people park here. By the time the truck reaches the lot, four more people have jumped out to help. Combined, such a small effort; but it couldn’t have been done with out them.
I collect small differences, little “goods” of the world. All those small pieces of good that fill the world but so few claim for fear of the little effort it takes to bring it to life; those pieces that fill up the heart and fortify it, making it whole, light, free.