A retreatant recently told me a story about an experience he had in his youth. He worked as a camp counsellor at a summer camp. One of the camp staff was an older woman who walked with a limp and cane because of polio. As a way of contributing with her limited capacities she did the laundry for the camp. As a part of this duty, she washed and folded the laundry of the counsellors. The gentlemen who shared this story with me spoke of how she did this humbly but with great dignity. She left a note on the top of his clean laundry which read, “I prayed for you as I folded your clothes. As I folded your socks, I prayed that you would always walk with the Lord.” She also had other notes for each piece of laundry.
This story struck me for several reasons when I pondered the scripture for this Sunday. The psalm ascribed to this Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is Psalm 25. It declares “Lord, make me know your ways, teach me your paths.” The simple blessing of the folded socks is just this, to walk with the Lord is to constantly seek God’s ways. Not only did the laundry folder know this truth but the camp counsellor grew into this truth as he now walks with the Lord as a military chaplain.
Walking with the Lord is not necessary a call to ministry in the church but it is a call to “come and follow” Christ and be “fishers of people” (Mark 1.14-20). Each of us have this call extended to us and just like the woman folding socks, or the military chaplain we must respond. Responding in ways such as blessing others in their tasks, or offering ourselves for what we can do (especially when others deem us as unnecessary) is indeed a dignity of the call. By guiding others as they discover the paths of the Lord, or caring for children, or listening to a friend, or beginning again after what we thought was the path of life is taken out from under us are just a few more ways to responding to the call. We are called to place our trust in the One who calls our name and says “follow me” responding to Good News.
Psalm 25 also states “he leads the humble in what is right and teaches the humble his way.” The woman who folded socks all those years ago did so with humility. Not to gain any glory but rather to encourage another in his journey. Her work is given dignity in the way this story is told and in acknowledging the gift of blessing another for what is theirs to do. She too was a “fisher of people” by offering this blessing for the camp counsellor. She had trusted when Jesus called her and was responding to his call through the ways she could do so with her life. Do we? Do we respond to the invitation to “come and follow”? Do we offer blessings for others, encouraging them to walk with the Lord in his known paths? What is Christ teaching us about his path for this week? How will we respond?
we journey with you
for you are the way
and offer us the path of life.
You call us each day to
“come and follow.”
We are unsure how,
yet we desire to follow you.
Teach us your paths
and make known to us your ways
so, we too may be fishers with you
in our time and place.