Every Sunday morning, a man enjoyed taking a light jog around a park near his home. There’s a lake located in one corner of the park and each time he jogged by this lake, he saw the same elderly woman sitting at the water’s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her. On one of those mornings, his curiosity got the best of him, so he stopped jogging and walked over to her. As he got closer, he realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap. There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap. The elderly woman had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush. When he approached her he asked, “I see you here every Sunday morning. If you don’t mind my nosiness, I’d love to know what you’re doing with these turtles?” She smiled and said, “I’m cleaning off their shells. Anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim. It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.” “Wow! That’s really nice of you!” the jogger exclaimed. She went on: “I spend a couple of hours every Sunday morning relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out. It’s my own strange way of making a difference in the world.” “But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells though?” he asked. “Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied. He then scratched his head and inquired, “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent? I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are fresh water turtles living in lakes all around the world. And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells. So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?” The woman giggled, as she looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbing off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world!”
Have you ever thought you weren’t making any bit of difference in the world with the efforts you’ve made to make it a more loving place? It’s often easy to do when one begins to compare themselves to others who always seem to be doing much greater humanitarian efforts that have far larger positive impacts upon the planet. But, this parable is a great reminder that sometimes that can still happen in even the smallest of actions.
Personally, I’ve asked myself a lot over the past few years if any of my own efforts of reaching out and helping others has even mattered. The answer I’ve arrived at time and time again is that I believe they have, it’s just that in most cases, I never receive confirmation of that. Occasionally though, I’ve gotten an email or a text message from someone somewhere in the world who has thanked me for my efforts, and ironically, they usually have come when I’m at my lowest point and questioning whether I’m making any bit of difference. Thankfully, I do think there’s something much Greater than I out there who is always listening to my thoughts and feelings and sees each of my efforts to help others, no matter how small they are, and sometimes lets me know that these efforts really do matter.
So, if you are someone who wonders if your efforts to make this world a better place are important or even matter, trust me when I say that I totally believe they do. Keep doing what you are doing and know that there is a Higher Guidance out there who continues to notice and when you least expect it, will remind you how much they and you are appreciated.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson