There's a cemetery I drive past a handful of times a week. It is the resting spot of my father-in-law actually and so a place I always glance over at with a bit of an ache.
Some days I see the chairs lined up in a row under the big tent, ready for a funeral. I quietly whisper a prayer under my breath. The days filled with sunshine and the rows of chairs feel even more cruel and even more prayers are uttered for whoever has to lay their precious person to rest on such a bright, cheerful looking day.
The past few weeks I've noticed a new visitor. He is always seated criss-cross on the grass, ball-cap in place, balloons in hand. Later, I always notice the balloons waving majestically from the tombstone and I wonder what sorrow this man must carry. My how I pray for him in-between the whispered "that's not fair" under my breath. Because it's not. It's just not fair that for whatever reason this man has added "cemetery" to his list of weekly obligations. Although, who are we kidding? This is no obligation, I'm sure he simply must go.
Today as I prayed a simple prayer for this man and his family I had the quick thought-does it even matter? Do these prayers for strangers, taking the time to notice the clouds, hands digging in the garden, and waiting for tomatoes to ripen even matter? Does grabbing hold of the treasures on this Earth right here, right now matter? Do prayers have any weight once they're more than breath on our lips? Sometimes with the media SO loud and the evil and angry so intense it feels like we're being hemmed in by sadness and darkness. Sometimes it feels like I'm clawing my way out of a hole of yet another sad story, to try and find the light. I imagine you must feel that way too.
I'm reminded of a story Anna came home from kindergarten with and I'm reminded that yes, each of these tiny measures of worship, light, and love-matter.
As I unzipped the backpack on yet another afternoon I noticed a colorful bucket Anna Ruth had filled in with crayon at school. I asked her about it and her eyes lit up explaining that we each have a bucket and when we're not kind to someone we not only take out of our own bucket, but out of theirs as well. But then her eyes REALLY got bright when she explained how we can actually fill our buckets and others too! She even used this against me later when I was lovingly teasing Brett and told me I was taking from her daddy's bucket!
The world is a great, big, giant bucket. "The world" meaning the greater world and people and places we may never encounter anywhere except for on this computer. It also means the tinier world that sits outside your front door and mine. We have obviously been born at this time in this age, for this season. That wasn't a mistake because scripture tells us in Psalm 139 that God knit us together in our mother's womb! Add that fact in with the knowledge that God is light and He is love and good and I'd say yes, all of these tiny ways to fill our buckets and others, matter.
It matters when we smile at the person in line next to us.
It matters when we utter a prayer for someone we see outside our car window.
It matters to get up every single morning and choose the light.
It matters to choose to add doses of joy to our day and let that light and goodness seep into others around us.
It matters to worship through acts like watching the tomatoes slowly ripen and be reminded that God is on the move, however small it may feel.
It matters to be delighted by a cup of hot coffee, the garden in early morning, and dew drops dancing.
The world's bucket (and maybe yours) is oh, so empty right now.
What can we do to fill it for just one single person today?