The New Daily Habit
I must admit that when I began this series I never expected anyone to ask “Why?” Who could possibly argue with someone recommending good deeds and then giving at least one suggestion every day? What could possibly be wrong with thinking of others and helping one’s neighbor?
We live in a world where life is not a given. Yesterday’s bombing at the airport in Istanbul is just one example. Over forty people were brutally murdered because of someone’s selfish motivation which, despite rhetoric to the opposite, has no basis in any religion whatsoever. While most of us do not face such dramatic events every day, there are unknown or hidden dangers in our daily living. Anyone could be hit by a moving vehicle. Natural disasters occur daily and [people die from illness every hour. We tend to take life for granted and we should not.
A good deed is, quite simply, something done for another person. Pentecost is a season on many church calendars known as the Ordinary Time, simply because it has no special services. It begins fifty days after Easter and ends the day before the first Sunday in Advent. It is a season of regular living without holidays or special services. For many people, it is that time on the church calendar in which people take personal vacations and attendance drops. IT is not marked by anything special; thus, the name for it is the Ordinary Time.
I proposed at the beginning of this series that no time is really ordinary. Each new day is a gift, given to us by whomever or whatever you feel is responsible for Creation. In earlier series we have discussed the variety of Creation myths that have encouraged life on this planet but it all boils down to this one summation: Life is a gift given freely and without reference to whomever truly “deserves” it. I had hoped in this blog series to encourage all to make something extraordinary out of the ordinary.
If asked, most people will admit to having visions of grandeur regarding their time on this earth or, if you are an astronaut, time spent revolving around the earth. (Pop quiz: Can you name those living on the International Space Station at this very minute? See, even that has not become ordinary!) Most of us would like to think our time on this planet in what we call our life accounts for something. We would like to think that when we pass, someone will remember us.
It has been said that fame is a fickle mistress and indeed public opinion changes more often than the seconds tick on a clock. What does not change is the good that we do for another person. Some schools are now including this in their curriculum. Doing something nice will hopefully one day become a daily habit.
TMS School is located in Richmond Hills, Ontario, Canada. They recently decided to embark on a new initiative, “One School, Thousands of Good Deeds”. Their mission was simple: “Each TMS student, family and staff member is encouraged to perform at least one good deed a day out of their normal routine to help someone else. The good deed can be for a classmate, family member, someone in the community, or a charitable organization. The deeds will embody Grace and Courtesy and our TMS Ideals. “
The school explained just how this initiative would work. “Good deeds, in the context of our initiative, are actions that an individual performs that help someone else. Good deeds should be appropriate for the age of our students. We welcome students to repeat deeds completed by other individuals and remind our students and families that this is not a competition. Examples of good deeds may include: sharing a toy, collecting goods for a charitable cause, cleaning up a park, giving up a seat on a bus, running an event for a good cause, going on a service trip to help a community, and much, much more! No good deed is too small.”
Good Deeds Cards were passed out to each child so that they could establish a set of goals for the school year regarding this project. Students shared their good deeds with each other in class to help exchange ideas and inspire each other. Some were quite simple. One young kindergarten noticed that two chairs were not pushed in under the table as he sat down to eat his lunch so he pushed the chairs in to avoid someone tripping over them. Others organized a book drive in which unneeded books from the school as well as students’ homes were collected and then donated to towns in poverty areas without libraries as well as being taken to a women’s shelter.
One class decided to hold class at a park across the street from their school but first, cleaned the park up, picking up litter and broken tree branches. Another student’s family provided a meal for a visiting basketball team while others shared their lunch with students who had forgotten theirs. One student gave his birthday money to a local charity while another gave up her seat on a subway train to an elderly man. Sometimes the good deeds were simply giving a compliment to another person while others included helping a teacher clean up after art class. A parent told of visiting the school with her baby in his stroller. At a stair case several young boys raced down laughing. They passed the parent and teacher giving the tour and then suddenly turned around and offered to carry the baby stroller up the stairs for the parent.
TMS School is installing doing good deeds as a daily habit for its students. They are encouraging their students to think outside of the box that is their own being and think of how they can help others. Like their initiative stated, “No good deed is too small.” No life is really ordinary and no two days are exactly alike. It is up to us to make our lives matter, to make this Ordinary Time into something extraordinary.