Though I'm a fair-weather football fan, last year I stood out in the freezing cold with over a million other people to watch the New England Patriots' welcome home parade in Boston after they had won the Super Bowl.
As my friend and I approached Boylston Street, where the parade would go by, we saw the massive crowds and wondered if we'd be able to get close enough to see anything. Also, it was the coldest day we'd had that winter, and a warm viewing area inside the mall that overlooked the street beckoned us. But despite the cold and possibly not being able to see anything, I wanted to be a part of the roar of the crowd that the players would hear. Joining in the cheering felt like one small way to convey appreciation for the success of these underdogs and to recognize their unselfish teamwork. But what possible difference would one more voice in a million make?
Every day we do things that everyone else does. And we may work hard at these things. I sing in a chorus with over 100 voices, and I occasionally have moments of "How could I matter?" when I consider that the ensemble would sound the same whether I mouthed the words or didn't show up at all. But I remind myself that each singer brings more than a voice.
Each of us being there makes a difference. Being part of a whole is significant. What you give to any situation can be much more than you may think. The love, spirit, patience, and courage that each person expresses in his or her own way contributes in immeasurable ways.
I found this to be true when I attended a music workshop where we were discussing ideas for themes of a melody each participant might compose. Part of the process was taking time as a group to value the theme that each individual had chosen. My idea was something that meant a lot to me. I wanted to write a song of praise.
But in thinking about it I realized how well-worn this idea was. There must be thousands of songs of praise. As I listened to the others discuss my idea in the spirit of valuing it, I appreciated their comments, but I found myself rolling my eyes and saying, "Come on, you guys. How many times has this been done before?"
The instructor interrupted me. "But we haven't heard your song of praise." He showed a wonderful appreciation for my contribution simply because it was from me. And he would have done this for any student. Not only did I feel that my idea was valued but that I was valued.
Something about this encounter moved me to tears. As I thought about it later, I remembered this statement I'd read by Mary Baker Eddy: "The divine Mind maintains all identities, from a blade of grass to a star, as distinct and eternal" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 70).
What had touched me so deeply was the instructor's recognition of each student's distinct and individual contribution. I'd caught a glimpse of the glory of the fact that my individuality is distinct and that everyone has something precious to give. God not only created each of us as distinct, but that distinct individuality is worth maintaining - eternally.
Sometimes we may feel that someone else could do what we do better than we do it. A better singer could have my spot in the chorus. Other songs of praise will rise higher than mine. But where we are and what we're doing have more to do with the approach we take than with the level of talent or ability we have. We bring our whole, individual, distinct self to any situation, and no one else can bring that. Someone's humor or joy or lightness can touch a heart, bring a smile, or even heal a wound.
You can remind yourself that you are the one called on to do what you're doing at this time and in this place, and you can give it your all. You can be part of the roar.
Are not five sparrows sold
for two farthings, and not one
of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Luke 12:6, 7