Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gentile Mitzvah

75 Prospect Street
Winsted, CT

Seventy-five Prospect Street, the address where I grew up in Winsted, Connecticut, left me with many memories, most were really good, and there were some I would rather forget. Life was tough, not exactly pretty, filled with many challenges for my parents who were desperately trying to make a better life for their three ambitious children. We lived on a street that had lost hope for its children.

While I have many stories, there's one that always comes to mind this time of the year about our landlord Miles Stowe. He was an old man when we met him. Silver haired, smiling blue eyes, and nearly crippled by arthritis that he walked at the end with two canes. Each year around Christmas, he would come by and knock on our door to wish us a joyous season. Then he would give us his gift, free rent for that month. Then without saying a word he would climb up the side stairs between our house and the next and to go visit his longtime friend Blanche Pendergast.

Why Miles did this I don't know. All I can tell you is that he did it with a smile and the warmth that would  melt the snow around the entrance to our home. Miles gave us something special each Christmas from his heart. He showed compassion and he felt a need to share what he had with his "neighbor".

My father always accepted the gift of this generous old man. He himself would later on in life practice taking care of those less fortunate than he. In fact, Dad has spent the rest of his life helping others whenever the opportunity arose. Dad believed in gentile mitzvah as do I.

There are many of us who wish for a better world. We seek religion and other things to make us feel better about ourselves and about life. I am convinced that if we shifted our focus from ourselves on to the needs of our neighbors, we like Miles would have reason to smile. Some of us however, cannot see beyond our needs. I admit that I've been like that but the past two years have brutally humbled me.

During this past year, the Southlake Lions Club conducted a fund raiser for Dallas Weins, a man who had lost his face as a result of an electrical accident. We were raffling tickets for a brand new Harley Davidson and I was having troubles selling them in an affluent community. Finally, I put aside my pride and said: "I will be honest with you. I was feeling sorry for myself because I had lost my job, but this man lost his face! I can recover but he will never fully recover." 

This season as we approach a new year, think about what a difference your compassion can make. Think about how you can make a difference. Think about Miles Stowe. Give with your heart don't wait to hear it on the news that someone needs your help. Regardless if you are a Republican or a Democrat, this is not about who is right or wrong, this is about doing what is right. It doesn't matter whether you love Jesus, Heavenly Father, Mohammed, Krishna, or Buddha. Without compassion and mitzvah your beliefs are hollow. Those in need are not necessarily far away from you in Africa or India. Open up your heart, eyes, and mind.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - I am uplifted this morning by your words and photo's. Thanks for sharing a part of you, so that we may see ourselves in better light.
    Love, Barbi


Please feel free to comment.