Marvin Repinski: When a little is all we need

Published 5:39 pm Friday, April 22, 2022

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“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” (The Bible, John 6:9)

The “little” that we often may seem to share with others, may be just what meets certain needs. Being aware of the food shelf that distributes boxes and bags of a mixture of various food items is what fills the needs of hungry families. The Austin Salvation Army has for years with its staff and volunteers, has been in the middle making a difference.

This is not unlike many who go out of their way to sustain a student by babysitting for them. There are also those who cover for a worker who is ill. You can name dozens of acts of kindness like the young boy with a few food items in the Bible reading, who bridges the gap between a generous heart and a feeling of wellness. Thank you!

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During this past Christmas, I was aware of many people in churches, schools, and clubs, who shared baskets of gifts to those who had less or maybe very little for Christmas Day. How fortunate we are, in a war-torn world, to have our residents in caring environments!

Teachers are sometimes the most important mentors to influence students from barely surviving to becoming “the person grandpa believes they can become.” They can succeed!

One teacher, Jane Patton, is cited in the magazine Arts and Activities. In an essay “Art Helps Me Serve My Community,” she makes an offer similar to the loaves and fish! She writes: “What has art to do with understanding and serving the community? Elementary school children discuss such questions as ‘What can we do in the United Arts Center to show that we understand and appreciate the advantages of living in Oak Park?’ They answer these questions with model houses, stores, etc., and plans for beautiful gardens, pictures of the community, and things they make for other people. Some students decided to make things to beautify their own homes and yards — thus began a study of appropriate housing for various birds.”

To me, an odd line in the Bible’s Gospel of Mark, 1:13, reads, “He was in the company of wild beasts, but angels ministered to him.” Next to this statement of anguish, I acknowledge another way of looking at the pressure, the reversals and pain of “the beasts.”

Another note from scripture reads: “And after the fire, the sound of utter stillness.” (I Kings 19:12)

Do we not, at times, live in two different worlds? On the same day there can be anguish and gladness.

I recall the day when I was pastoring a church in Duluth, when a mother hugged and kissed her 12-year old son as he was walking to the corner where his school bus was to pick him up. But the road was slippery with ice, including the corner where the students stood waiting for their transportation. The school bus slid on the ice and the front wheel ran over the boy. It was one of the most tragic injuries where I was called to the hospital to offer pastoral assistance. Death did not wait. My understanding of any providence is still muddied. My future contacts with the family have always been with hugs and prayers.

In this world of combined anguish and gladness, we live our lives to keep our stability, common sense, and embrace the bright places. A prayer that is necessary at all times in our journey is:

“O God, in the two gardens of our history, one of delight in which we dare and are lost; the other of agony in which men and women endure and win, may we hear Thy voice, and respond to the stirrings without hesitation or shame. Amen.” (The book: “The Power to Bring Forth” by Samuel L. Terrien).

We may wish to add words to this prayer. My choice is from the Russian author Leo Tolstoy. “One must have the prospect of a promised land to have the strength to move.” In the present weeks, as in his own days, Tolstoy was haunted and grieved over the state of his country. Is peace, I ask, ever to be found in particular countries? I ponder with you the reader — is there going to be a time when the people of Russia will find a government that will be a democracy rather than the poison of totalitarianism? I’m aging — so they say — but I’m not about to surrender HOPE!

Maybe a poem will help. Jacqueline Frank has written: “The Secret.”

My hand that stroked your forehead

knew it but would not give it away.

When I looked at the palm afterwards

its lines kept their own tracings.

Your eyes knew it.

They burrowed under their lids

like two fish beneath water when the moon

grazes the surface, ignoring the deep.

Your fingers repeated it. They closed

and unclosed, grappling the sheet

to bring it up to your face

as though you could hide any further.

When I dream I know what you knew.

When I awaken, only your silence

breaks through with the light.