Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Public Servants

Its an election year. If we aren't focused on our public servants already, soon we will be forced to by the barrage of billboards, television ads, mailings, radio spots, polls.....the list goes on and on. The vast expenditure of time, talent and dollars; the necessary outpouring of opinion; the splitting of hairs and targeting of messages; all these combine to have a Chicken Little effect on the populace. We become jaded, lethargic, and downright irritated by the attention demanded by our elected representatives and their messengers.

But this is also the month before our Missouri primaries and the giant general election is relatively distant. So its a good time to take note of the more gentle, local, unrewarded volunteers all around us. Take sandpaper to our thick skin and rub down to our soft heart. Lower our demands and our expectations to bread and butter rather than cake and ice cream. When we do that, we may not see results, but we'll notice and appreciate effort.

Thanks again to all those who maintain, who paint, weed, pick up, and mow. There is a whole literature devoted to the 'broken window' theory. It applies to small towns and neighborhoods no less than inner cities. Wish we could make everything new and spiffy. Wish we could rehabilitate what we still have with some magical source of multi millions. But happy for a fence and barberries. Happy that tearing down makes us look up.

Thanks for local talent. Warm up those vocal chords. Dig the winds out of the bedroom closet. Practice like fiends; wear out your lip, your lungs, your butt. Play something that's way too hard. Work into a team, an ensemble and bring music, laughter, song and dance to empty halls. Sure, its fabulous to travel to the big city and listen to the pros in the lap of a luxury entertainment palace. To have your culture handed to you on a silver platter. But learning your show note by note and entrance by entrance is like gardening; the show doesn't look like much when planted but eventually fills in until no one notices a weed or two and your canvas could be a Monet. I'm sure producing a show gives lots of folks gray hair, but I think I keep a few brain cells and add some dexterity that I would otherwise lose during the months we practice. And perhaps someone in the audience will get the opportunity to indulge a love of theater or hear a type of music not readily available on the airwaves these days.

Finally, thanks for all the folks who put in their time for the little children. When I see the ladies helping fearful young 'uns put their face in the water for nigh unto the second generation; when I they travel miles to put in another year at the Tarkio Pool; when my children are signing their children up for Red Cross swimming lessons, I say a prayer of appreciation.

Thanks to coaches and parents who patiently put up with dust and noise and lost weekends on the ball field to introduce kids to the Great American past time. Thank you for the finest examples of sportsmanship and leadership.

Our church has been transformed into a dude ranch for the week. Lots of folks have contributed to make a fun festive atmosphere and to bring the joy of love of God and man to the kids and each other for the week. From the ladies in the kitchen offering seconds, to the young adults teaching games on their summer vacation, to the hilarious skits, thoughtfully prepared crafts and individual attention and greetings for each child, the admonition of Jesus to 'suffer the little children' and to come to Him as a child would is played out dozens of times each evening. Bless them all.

Each time we volunteer we make our little town a better place, but we really make ourselves better citizens and better people. No one keeps score and no one keeps a time card; no one makes a commercial like the Liberty Mutual people do, or the Foundation for a Better Life. It's just another gentle reminder that time spent away from our own work and worry is not wasted time.

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