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Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 Edith Morris


Catchword Corner

October 2008

A Helping Hand

I looked around the crowded train carriage. No empty seats. I swayed and wobbled, trying to keep my balance, propped up on my sticks. I peered around the passengers angrily, willing one of them to give up a seat. But no. They continued reading their papers, staring into space, hiding behind their usual passive Japanese faces. Wait! One man was squirming and looking decidedly uncomfortable and finally stood up to give me his seat. I flopped down gratefully and turned to thank him. He moved away into the crowd, not wanting to draw attention to himself. He had only one arm.

Of all the people in the train carriage of 50 or so, he was the only one to give me a seat. Now he was the one standing, swaying and struggling to keep upright with only one hand to steady himself and hold onto the strap above. Who had the greater need, I wondered?

Although this incident happened a number of years ago when we were missionaries in Japan, it has left a profound impression on me.

More recently here in Hamilton, I was sitting in my car outside the Mall wondering who I could ask to lift my wheelchair out. An older lady tapped on the window and said, "Would you like me to get your wheelchair out for you?" Startled I replied, "Yes please" She energetically lifted it with ease and said, "Oh it's a light one, isn't it? I do this all the time for my husband who's in a wheelchair." I was surprised again and said, "And on the very day you come out shopping on your own, you have to get my wheelchair out." We both laughed and off she went. She was doing what came naturally and could instantly recognise and meet the need.

Another time a young father lifted the wheelchair out of the boot for me and we talked for a very long time as he unburdened his concern over his little daughter. She is very heavily disabled and uses a wheelchair. I listened to him with an understanding of his situation. Sharing his heart eased his pain for a little while.

Pain, external or internal, has a way of programming us to be sensitive to the needs of others. That pain could be our own or the unbearable pain of watching a loved one suffer. It matters that our hearts are moved by compassion, that we identify with the hurt of another and that we rise above our own limitations to reach out. To extend ourselves for the well-being of others has a way of bouncing back upon us. We in turn are blessed and encouraged.