Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, it’s hard to discount the idea that at least one of Jesus’ guiding principles has had an impact that has endured for centuries. In the 13th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that; “as I have loved you, you are to love one another.”
Since 3:20 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 24, nowhere has this been more evident than in our beautiful Napa Valley. Although many of us have been beneficiaries of our county’s generosity of spirit, remarkable philanthropy and sense of community, the love that has poured out since the earth shook our valley has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Sitting in church on any given Sunday morning, I often find it intimidating when we are asked to walk in Christ or to do the good work God has prepared for us to walk in. Those are big shoes I can’t ever imagine filling. Yet by the time the sun rose on the morning of the 24, countless texts and e-mails from family and friends and the buzz on social media made me realize that filling those shoes is a lot easier than I thought.
Even though we might admire and try to emulate someone who is accomplished or has made a difference in the world, we don’t have to be them, we need to do our best to be like them.
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There is no special training or requirement to show that we love and care for one another. It just kind of happens and manifests itself in many ways, especially when we are faced with tragedy. In the wake of the earthquake, countless pictures, stories and posts on the Internet, social media and plain old television showed neighbor helping neighbor regardless of race, gender, religion or any other differences that are making tempers flare elsewhere in the world right now.
While government was busy creating a plan to bring disaster relief funds to our county, the rest of us got to work. People opened their homes and kitchens to displaced friends and families, local builders, masons and electricians offered helping hands, Central Valley Building Supply slashed prices, the Fuller Brush Company gave out free cleaning supplies, middle school girls opened a lemonade stand to help damaged historical buildings, Volunteer Napa and the Red Cross directed volunteers and resources, the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company offered free coffee drinks to anyone helping in the clean up effort, The San Francisco Chronicle Season of Sharing program and Napa County Healthy and Human services opened a grant program for families in need and, among others too numerous to name, the organization that set the bar for Napa Valley giving threw their hat into the ring. The Napa Valley Vintners announced a $10 million lead donation to create a disaster relief fund to meet immediate needs faced by families and local businesses.
In thinking about it, I guess this loving others thing isn’t too hard after all. In a disaster or daily life, when we care for each other, give of ourselves and remember that everyone matters and deserves our respect, we are doing what we’ve been asked to do. It’s simple. Why not give it a try?
(Sara Cakebread is a member of St. Helena’s Grace Episcopal Church.)