Feb 13 2011

“Not In Vain”

robin 1871A few weeks ago I ran into someone I know who has been going through a very difficult time.  A lot of things have gone wrong in his life and it was obvious that he was very discouraged.  Despite this, he seemed to have a resolve to not let his troubles get the best of him.  At one point in our conversation he spoke of a poem that had given him a great deal of inspiration.  He said the poem is called “Not in Vain” and that the author was Emily Dickenson.  I told him I wasn’t familiar with it but that I’d look it up.  Later I did and in case you are not familiar with it either, this is how it reads: “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain: If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”

I can certainly see how this beautiful poem brought encouragement and inspiration to the person I spoke to.  When things in our life do not work out as we planned we are tempted to conclude that our lives have been lived in vain.  When, however, we look at the bigger picture, we will see that if in this life we are able to help another person, or even another creature, our lives have not been lived in vain at all.

I try to live my life in service to others.  Being a minister it’s what I do for a living, but being a servant to others is far than just a job.  I am a Christian and thus a follower of the one who said he came “not to be served but to serve.”  I also happen to believe that serving others should include caring for animals.  That’s why I support various wildlife organizations, feed the birds, own a dog, and send lots of letters to my congressmen concerning legislation effecting wildlife.  These are all little things but they make a difference.  They also add meaning to my life.

Like the person who told me about the poem, I have no intention of my life being lived in vain.  In every way I can I plan to make it count.  I want to help those in need, be they human or animal.  I hope you do as well.


(I photographed the robin above recently in my yard.)