I’m usually a positive, optimistic sort of person who believes in the inherent goodness of people, but lately the news seems so dire and the needs so great that I sometimes feel inadequate to do much of anything to help.

Fortunately, a recent experience showed me my efforts can make a difference. I walk my neighborhood most days for fitness, usually alone. It’s a familiar stroll and one I enjoy. I see the same houses, wave to the neighbors, sometimes stopping to chat, and have even gotten to know some of the dogs I see along the way.

One day a while ago I spotted an unfamiliar dog. I was wary as I passed her, not knowing if she would growl or bark frantically as I passed. Her eyes tracked me. This went on for a few days. After I while, I would pause to talk to her, and she responded with a wagging tail and a play bow. Whenever I approached her yard, she would leap toward me. It was almost as though she was asking to come along on my walk.

I thought the same thing and decided it would be nice to have some company. I did not know her owner and felt awkward about asking to walk her, but I was lucky that a mutual acquaintance in the neighborhood helped break the ice.

Helping: The Cure for Helplessness

Of course, knowing I am helping my neighbor and his dog feels good. But frankly, what it’s doing for me feels even better. I feel a deeper sense of possibility. It’s showing me I can be much more than a witness or a passive supporter of someone else’s efforts.

I met my neighbor and his dog, Jersey, a young husky shepherd mix with lots of puppy energy. It took a while for us to settle into a rhythm and for me to gain enough control of her not to be pulled all over the place. But now I look forward to my Jersey time and, judging from Jersey’s enthusiastic response every time she sees me, I know she does too. My neighbor—and new friend—is grateful that I can give his dog the time and energy he doesn’t always have for her.

Of course, the world’s problems continue, and my walking a dog isn’t going to cure society’s ills. But I feel a change in myself because I tapped into my power and got busy doing something.

As we make the effort and expend the energy, we raise our vibration and discover the presence of God in all the hands that help and in every heart that cares.

I learned the important thing is to get started and then to keep at it. You can do it too. It’s simple: When you see the need, be willing to meet it if it’s in your power to do so. After all, this is one of the ways we discern God’s presence in the world. We make the effort and expend the energy to embody that presence. As we do, we raise our vibration and discover the presence of God in all the hands that help and in every heart that cares.

About the Author

Rev. Teresa Burton is an ordained Unity minister and licensed Unity teacher. A dynamic speaker and creative instructor, Burton makes Unity teachings easy to understand and fun to learn. Before answering the call to ministry, she worked as an editor for more than 25 years in various capacities in print and digital publishing.


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