Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
– St. Francis of Assisi
My Daddy uses the phrase “Champion of the Underdog” to describe my Mother. She always had a soft spot for those who were in need. “In need” meant a lot of things to Mother. It could have meant “in need” of a friend, money, clothes, heating, air conditioning, someone to listen without judgment, a home cooked meal, encouragement, and the list goes on and on.
Mother definitely did NOT follow the crowd when it came to judging others. It always seemed when the world decided to turn their backs on someone, my Mother would always “pull for them”. (That did not always make her popular.) It was not her way of condoning any kind of behavior. It was just her way of loving someone who was messed up, just like the rest of us.
I always knew this was a trait Mother had, but I never really thought anything about it until after she passed away. The night we stood in a line to receive friends for her visitation, we were reminded of so many wonderful things about Mother. Friends and family hugged our necks and recalled how special Mother was. However, it wasn’t just friends and family who came to see us that night.
There were numerous people who stood in line for hours just to tell us things like, “You don’t know me, but your Mother got our heat turned back on one winter when we were without money and didn’t have any power.” “You don’t know me, but your Mother takes my house payment every month, and I look forward to sitting in her office and telling her about my family.” Then there was the man who was too shy to speak. He just handed us a letter explaining how Mother had helped him when nobody else would.
What an honor to hear those stories from people we did not even know!
As we begin a new school year, there are many anxious feelings from students AND teachers. As a teacher, it is hard to look at a class roll and NOT think about those challenging students, the ones who would definitely be labeled “underdogs”. Underdogs are typically hard to get to know, misbehave to get attention, and usually look different from what we would deem to be typical appearance. Thinking of how my Mother cared for others in that way inspires me to love others when they seem unlovable. It inspires me to befriend those who don’t have a support system. It inspires me to show love to people when the world says to ignore them and pretend they don’t exist.
The phrase “Champion of the Underdog” used to make me think of something like this:
The world needs more “Champions”. I pray I am half the woman my Mother was.