Upon entering the season of retirement, her life and time naturally aimed their focus on new projects such as volunteering at “The Triangle” in Riverside or caring for small children at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). Painting old walls, staining a deck and hauling loads of her own dug-up flowers to help plant a fresh garden in a couple’s new home became part of her new rhythm — all the while, maintaining her own home projects. World travel lead to collecting discarded books from local libraries so that on her next trip to Africa, children would benefit. Why? Cindy’s eyes see a world through a lens that constantly asks, “What needs to be done?”
I was recently enlightened by a book titled “Spiritual Parenting,” written by Michelle Anthony. Among the 12 applicable and life-shaping principals, I took pause after reading one particular response to life’s situations. As a parent, I realized that topping the list of the most important concepts I could impart upon my children was this question: “What needs to be done?” As Anthony states, “To have them walk into any room, situation or relationship and ask this will change the way they see their world.”
I think we all want to teach our children to help out in the home and community while demonstrating polite manners. I personally struggle daily with cultivating this posture of automatically recognizing what needs to be done, but I am determined to set our children onto an intentional path that might guide their lives. Although difficult, once adopted, it’s hard to ignore.
I desire my children who live in our blessed community full of opportunity to enter their future experiences — whether they be a Village Hall meeting, a classroom, the local park, or a home — and see immediately what needs to be done. To look at a problem or situation and set the chairs out, refill the coffee, take on that project, make a certain family a meal, donate what is not needed. I so desire for them to take a part in the solution by simply asking this presented question.
As with any habit, exercising this concept has the power to transform the attitude of the heart. The benefits of a serving experience lead to an inner peace and a desire to do it again. When taught early, this principle can play out in circumstances for a lifetime. However, it is never too late to see through a new perspective. So, next time you wonder how our community can become be a better place, consider how you can serve in ways you might not have thought of naturally. Try to recognize the minuscule areas of need and ask yourself, “What needs to be done?” And if you feel you are able, do it! Your simple act of service will go farther than you’ll ever know. The collective result is for the greater good.
Picture another woman with her children at the checkout of a grocery store. Recognizing there is nobody currently able to attend to this particular aisle, she naturally begins to bag her own groceries and further engages in a genuine discussion with the clerk about the approaching holiday. Later her children randomly ask, “Mom, do you think that lady at the store went to Florida to see her family for Easter?” Something not only got done, but an authentic interest for a stranger developed.
That was the gift I learned from my own mom, Laura. After a lifetime of watching her interact in situations with genuine respect and kindness, I find it natural to do the same. And ever since my mother-in-law taught me how to plant my first garden, I have tried to be an active participant in what needs to be done. My hope and prayer is that my children will grow up and integrate these concepts, whether that takes the form of painting a fence, running for a cause, or letting a complete stranger know they care. I am ever so grateful to have learned from my “mothers” what it means to engage with our world through this lens.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills
resident; husband; Indian prince; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlights a new business or announces school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history
. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.