Friday, August 14, 2009

Celebrating the strands that bind us together

I was sitting in a crowded theater watching “Spider-Man 3” with my sons when Spidey creator Stan Lee appeared in a scene with Peter Parker.

“You know, I guess one person can make a difference,” he tells Peter.

I love when movies provide moments I can discuss later with my kids. And I knew Lee’s line was just the sticky stuff I needed to capture their attention. It was a good opportunity to chat about the difference each one of us can make. And the visual of a web showing how we are all interconnected wasn’t bad either. I had it all figured out by the time we got to the car.

The kids saw it coming. They’re used to me weaving cinematic moments into our drive-home discussions. But I just couldn’t help sharing some moments in my life when one person had made a difference.

Sometimes the moments have been simple - like a smile and a few kind words from the clerk who rings up my morning coffee on a day I’m feeling blue. And sometimes the moments have been more life changing, like the moment my first son was born, and I realized that the incredible gift I had been given would change my life forever.

One of the real beauties in this world, I think, is the intricate web created when one person does something nice for someone else, like Charlotte does for her beloved Wilbur in “Charlotte’s Web.” Usually, the person has no idea how far-reaching the web they started has become, nor do they realize the number of people caught in its magic.

I have two such webs I’d like to share.

I remember arriving at Emig Funeral Home in Dover in March 1997 for my brother-in-law’s viewing and director Dan Cupp telling us that an anonymous donor had paid the entire funeral bill. What a difference that person made in all of our lives that day.

There were tears. And more tears. Not just because of the financial burden that was lifted from my sister, Wendy, who was very ill (she died less than a month later), but because of what it taught us about human compassion.

Each one of us was touched by this incredible act of kindness. It showed us there is good in the world and to give and not expect anything in return is an awesome thing.

One person.

One moment.

One web.

But many touched by its magic.

Iremember the time I came home on a cold winter’s night to find a pile of presents at my door for a needy child I had been buying Christmas gifts for. The generous soul didn’t want me to know he had left them (he’ll tell you not every Santa wears red), but it wasn’t hard to figure out.
My brother-in-law Frank has one of the biggest, warmest, most loving hearts around, and if you tell him a child needs something, he’s the first one to the store buying it. In this case, the child wanted some hockey equipment. And Frank, an avid hockey fan, knew just what to get.

One person.

One moment.

One web.

But many touched by its magic.

Parents. Spouses. Siblings. Friends. Teachers. Neighbors. You get the idea. All of us can and do make differences every day. We may not see the entire web our single action spins, but the masterpiece is there and its beauty felt in each connecting strand.

Be Charlotte-esque. Help weave the webs of the world. They make it stronger and better for all of us to live in.

One person can make a difference.

First published in the York Daily Record/Sunday News May 27, 2007

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