by Ken Rolheiser
Seeing greatness in ourselves and others

Recently I was watching Blue Jays in 30, and I was struck by the athleticism of Hlady Guerrero who won the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game and then, the first time at bat in a game, put the ball over the fence.

The Jays won three consecutive games after the All-Star Break and completed winning eight of nine consecutive matches. I started musing about seeing greatness in others, an inspiration I feel when watching performances in American Idol and The Voice.

I stopped the video of the Jays and told my wife, “As good as these guys are, as professional at their jobs, we were that good when we were raising our children and working at our various jobs.”

It is not an exaggeration when we consider all we were doing raising four children, keeping a household running, buying groceries on tight budgets and all the while carrying on extra curricular duties. A list could include President/Executive Positions of Nursery School, Cubs/Brownies, Scouts, Figure-Skating, Dance, and the list goes on.

I kept track one year of extra hours of one role as President, and it was over one hundred additional hours. Then there were the Church related roles of Pastoral Council Executive, Choir, Bible Study, Catechism organization and teaching, Deanery and Archdiocesan involvement.

I recite these not to brag or exaggerate, but to ring the bell for all parents and adults who do so much for so many in Saskatchewan’s Number One activity Volunteerism. Pre-Pandemic 70 % were volunteering at some level. Pandemic levels dropped to 17 %, but Post-Pandemic rates are at 46 % and rising. (Volunteerism in Saskatchewan: Technical Report).

In real terms, I have witnessed many heroic examples of dedicated service that are inspiring and Grace filled. I see young families with working parents raising several children while being involved in various activities. Volunteerism Report lists Sports and Recreation involvement at 17 %, Religion at 15 %, Fund-raising at 15 %, Community Organization and Development at 14 % etc.

We just need to pause and see the greatness around us. You do not need to wait until retirement and the chair that makes you sit and pause. And don’t forget to look at your own family members to see the greatness. 

I still picture my Mom and Dad on those working days before electricity and automation. The coal and wood-stove cooking, the manual washing machine, the close-line, the ironing board, and the mending, to raise a large family on small farm Saskatchewan. It was heroic!

Thomas Gray in his “Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard” had an adequate metaphor: “Full many a gem of purest ray serene, / The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;” and “Many a flower is born to blush unseen, / And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

We who are mindful of the “unhonored Dead” should certainly not be unmindful of the greatness and beauty that surrounds us. We cannot but marvel at the energy and wonder of those parents and community members who are our examples of lives well-lived, and love well spent.

And at the end of it all, as those who have gone before us have experienced, is a loving God who rewards our every good action. “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42).

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