So if you are of a certain age (as I certainly am and so many of my friends are), you grew up and grew older with the characters of the late and lamented All My Children (and I still hate ABC for throwing this treasure of a show onto the great heap of gone-too-soon memories). Perhaps not everyone realizes that the title of the show came from a poem written by the iconic Agnes Nixon, creator and writer of more daytime shows than one can count. “The great and the least, the rich and the poor, the weak and the strong. In joy and in sorrow, in tragedy and triumph, you are all my children”.
But today we live in a world so divided and so divisive, with the threat of a boorish orange bully possibly leading our country some day. (And I’m sorry-not-sorry for my political leanings on civility and tolerance and polite behavior if they offend). Please and thank you are the exception to the rule. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you are words that seem to have less importance in our spiritual lives every day. We seem to have forgotten that we truly are all one family, all my children.
Tonight I came home from a long day at work, tired from a troubled night’s sleep and a lingering cough that has overstayed its welcome by many weeks and, as I turned the corner onto my block, I was behind the trash collectors’ truck. These hard-working guys usually come the first thing in the morning and you are likely to see people scurrying out of their houses, trash bags in tow so that they don’t miss one of our twice-weekly pickups. More than one person has told me that the trash guys come too early, either waking them up or causing them to have to make the mad dash to get their trash bag to the curb on time. I know we all have problems; an early trash pickup is not one of mine.
And in the ultimate you-can’t-win-for-losing situation, I saw several of my neighbors who also got stuck behind the garbage truck honking and then complaining about why the trash pick-up was so late in the day, giving a hard time to both the driver and his assistant who loads the messes and garbage and yucky stuff into the truck so that we don’t have to do. I was ashamed to watch some people yelling at this guy, a guy only following orders he gets from some dispatcher somewhere else about what time to pick up at each community. This is a hard-working guy working hard at what is probably a minimum-wage job that few others would want to do. A job that I’m sure is physically difficult and done outdoors in the middle of an icy morning or a pelting rainstorm or the extreme heat of a late summer afternoon. A job you wouldn’t do; a job I wouldn’t do. But this guy does it and we all benefit from it. A guy I say thank you to when I see him because I appreciate that his job makes my life better, my surroundings more clean and more appealing.
It reminded me that these men – who I don’t know at all – are the same children of God that I am and that my great kid and my Mom are, and that my sisters, my DC girls, my Burke and Vernola cousins are. Just because someone does a job that someone else thinks is beneath them, it doesn’t devalue the work that they do, the service they provide, the job that helps us all. We all need to take ourselves to task and remember that work – whatever kind – is valuable and should be appreciated. That politeness and gratitude and acknowledgment of a job well done (an “attaboy” as my darling Mom likes to say) are things to aspire to. That a kind word can be the lifeline to someone whose day has been a mess. That you reap what you sow. That what goes around comes around. That everyone matters.
And that we are all God’s children.