When I was a child I gave my first talk in church before a room of children. Two and a half minutes were allotted and a scripture was assigned. However by the time I got home, the scripture that was probably meant to be Matthew 5:48, survived as Matthew 5:45:
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
My father stewed over what I was sure must be correct, then compromised by having me memorize all the verses from 38-48. (I was about five or six years old.) On the following Sunday I stood on the pull-out riser at the blond podium and recited, sat down, was thanked, and then I was forgotten. But those verses have stayed with me. The idea of turning the other cheek, giving away your “cloke,” and walking the second mile were things I could do. Perhaps they seemed more achievable than the exhortation to become perfect.
But the verse that stayed with me most was the one about the life-giving rain that falls upon the good and the evil.
One of Neil Diamond’s lesser known songs, “Done Too Soon,” is about this. It’s about how everyone, from Mozart to Bogart to Genghis Khan have
“each one there
. . .one thing shared:
They have sweated beneath the same sun,
Looked up in wonder at the same moon,
And wept when it was all done.”
This morning the sun greets me, caressing my backyard in soft white light and inviting me to come play in the dirt among the flowers. Birds sing from my cherry tree where they have left behind pits for me to take care of and Sherlock dashes behind dogwood bushes, and among the spreading strawberries. True to his nature, he searches out flying creatures. Recently I found the delicate remains of black moth wings on the gravel around my garden boxes where young peas are bursting in pods and cabbages are expanding.
Light and dark, life and death, fruit and failure. We all face each day with the good or evil that comes, interact with the just and unjust, and receive heaven’s gentle rain or face raging storms. Sometimes it’s good to remember that everyone could use a friend while we sweat beneath the sun. We all long for a hand to hold at the end of the day when we gaze in wonder at the moon.
So I think of the verses in Matthew and I try to be kinder and walk a second mile when I can. I’m not as out-going as my DH who waves at everyone, stranger and friend, but in my heart I would love to do as Martin Luther once urged, and “Stand on a wall and shout encouragement to everyone!”
Life is better when we live with eyes open in kindness and forgiveness to those around us. We see more, feel more, and become more.