Edward Kinghorn is a licensed Neuropsychologist and is currently the Psychology Department Chair at BYU Hawaii. He gave a talk telling about his experiences working as a counselor with the Red Cross after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in the Fall of 2001.
Professor Kinghorn describes working with a Dr. Frances Menlove, who was a seasoned and experienced clinician. She later was asked to give a guest sermon to
the Lincoln City Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, on
March 10, 2002. These are her words describing what she saw inside the St. Paul's Chapel which is near Ground Zero. St. Paul’s had been set aside as a
sanctuary for workers who were still toiling around the clock to clear
the debris of the Twin Towers and to search for human remains. "The entire chapel was covered with banners, hand-lettered posters,
small and large pictures by school children expressing thanks and
appreciation. There were notes taped to the sides of very pew, up and
down the aisle. Several Banners hung from the balconies.
four-by twelve-foot pennant had a multitude of hand-drawn green mittens,
each signed by a child, with a headline that said “Warm your hearts
with our mittens.” Another huge streamer lined up dozens of red
children’s hand prints to form the stripes of an American flag. There
were notes in the pews. The one tucked in by me said: “Dear Hero, thank
you for making us safe. I like soccer. I don’t like baseball. Do you
like soccer? Your new friend, Craig.”
The altar was the only
place unadorned by posters, notes and banners. Several votive candles
were burning. In front of the altar, a flute player from the New York
Symphony played lilting melodies. There was a lot of quiet
activity. Along the back wall of the chapel sandwiches and soup were
being served. Along the left side of the chapel, tables held first-aid
supplies, candies, lip balm, socks, aspirin—anything someone might want
coming in from the cold after a shift of spirit-wrenching labor. There
was a bowl of power bars, each with a homemade valentine wrapped around
it and held tight with a rubber band. All were free for the taking. In
front of me, one man was lying down on the pew, apparently asleep.
Others were sitting in the pews eating, or just resting. I didn’t know
then that these workers had found four more bodies that morning.
small enclosed area about eight feet square caught my attention on the
right side of the chapel. A large bronze plaque announced that this was
George Washington’s pew, the place he worshiped on the day of his
inauguration, April 30, 1789. Right next to this official plaque was a
large, carefully printed sign “Foot Care.” The workers were having
trouble with their feet, so it was decided to devote George Washington’s
pew to “Foot Care.” Each day a podiatrist
volunteered. One worker had his shoes off and another one was waiting
to be examined as I sat scrunched in my own pew.
I remembered the
Gospel of John: Jesus got up from the table and tied a towel around
himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the
disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around
him. After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had
returned to the table, he said to them, “I have set you an example that
you also should do as I have done to you” (v. 15)."
I was so impressed with this talk and thought about all the school teachers who were aching to do something,-- anything, to express their love and support to the survivors, to the families who were devastated and to the workers still addressing the horror of Sept 11. I pictured the teachers talking to their students and deciding on what small act of service they could do. I pictured the children coloring pictures, writing notes, and making valentines to cover a power bar and wrapping a rubber band around it, never knowing the impact their service would make. Never knowing that a whole church would be covered with small acts of service. Never knowing that I would read of their acts years later and still be profoundly touched by them.
Sometimes we never know how our actions make a difference in someone else's life. I had the privilege of hearing how one small act of mine affected a friend. I had taken my teenage neighbors to the hospital to play our instruments and sing for my friend's husband. He was in quarentine and we had to dress in special robes to enter his room. He passed away several months later. My friend wept as she told how, what I viewed as a small act of service, had brought so much love and comfort to her and her husband.
Valentine's Day is coming. What can you and I do to brighten someone's day with a genuine message of love?
The first Valentine's Day after my husband passed away, my next door neighbor brought me flowers. She said that was what my husband had done for her the first Valentine's Day after her husband had passed away. I never knew that he had done that.
Love. Little Acts of Love. By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.
Thanks for reading,