I've been reading Breathnach's 'Simple Abundance for the umpteenth time, and after re-reading her essay on keeping a Gratitude journal, I remembered this piece of mine previously published in PavoMag back in 2009. It bears a reprint.
rise at five of five in the morning; feed the cat; do toilet; dress;
stuff a small notebook and pen in my pocket and with keys in hand, head
out the door by five past five. My morning five-mile walk is an
everyday ritual – rain or shine. It is my sanity, my walking,
meditating, mantra reciting and brainstorming time. There is clarity at
daybreak. I see things rarely observed in our work-a-day world.
Although I cannot see Campbell's metaphysical helping hands I see
those very real but rarely notice “…unseen helping hands.”
We live in a land full of largely unseen helping hands. At five in the morning those hands have faces.
put my overflowing trashcan on the curb Tuesday morning just as the
rain came. I do it every Tuesday and Friday morning rain or shine, hot
or cold. Every Tuesday and Friday evening when I come home from work,
an empty can awaits me. At five in the morning, I see the hands that do
this for me. The men with gloved hands holding on to the back of the
passing truck wave, and the driver honks as they collect the refuse in
countless cans on countless streets.
At five in the morning those unseen helping hands have faces.
I pass by Caldwell and then Rhodes parks, I see the crews with mowers
and trash bags going about the job of keeping these small city oases
clipped and clean for all of us.
On the back side of my walk, I pass the darkened pancake house on a corner of Southside,
there is a light on back in the kitchen. Preparation for the morning’s
meals is in progress. A lone pair of hands cracks eggs, grates cheese,
Farther down the street, there is a tall
dark man in an orange vest with a broom, a shovel, and a trash bag. He
cleans 5-Points’ streets almost every morning, humming to himself, as he
goes about his work. He always looks up as I walk by. He smiles at me
and says good morning and I return in kind.
drop a few letters and bills in the slot at the post office and check
my box for incoming. I hear the cheerful banter beyond the slots and
boxes. The bills containing my checks get to Virginia and New York; the
letter to my navy brother crosses the ocean; the card gets to my
sister, Barbara, in Atlanta; and the birthday check for my daughter,
Dawn, gets to Pineville,
Louisiana in just a few days – I never doubt they will. As I open my
box, Charlie’s face appears with a cheerful, “Perle, hang on a minute; I’ll make
sure that’s all.” As I peer through the little box, Charlie’s hand
reaches through and passes me one last piece of mail.
come home late at night and flip a little switch and my home is lit with
an ambient glow of light. How many hands keep the power flowing? I
saw many of them during the blizzard of ‘93 as I slogged through
I turn a knob and water comes to me for drinking,
cooking, bathing and more. I turn another knob and my waste is flushed
away. I raise my thermostat, and I am warmed. I lower it and I am
I go to the grocery store and there is a bounty of foods
to choose from. I can only imagine the hands that milked the cows, made
the cheese, and picked the fruits. There are fresh foods, frozen
foods, and canned foods, and more.
I lift my phone and ask for numbers and they come. I go online and find places, people, information, maps and more.
How many hands did it take?
are surrounded by far more than a thousand, unseen, helping hands every
day of our lives. There are dedicated, passionate individuals who work
behind the scenes to better the lives of the disenfranchised; they
write letters, give speeches circulate and sign petitions. There are
hands, that give anonymous gifts and monies for the less fortunate – all
the angels of all the Christmas angel trees. There are people working
day after day, both here and on foreign soil, that invisibly turn the
wheels of our lives.
I am grateful for them all.
First published in PavoMag.com 11/15/2009