The letter to the editor entitled; “I am Tired” dated September 26, made me very sad. Without a doubt there are people in our community who struggle with educational issues, unemployment, finances, and world-weariness. But, it’s also worth noting that many people choose to blame others for their problems because it takes the burden of failure off them. No one, including myself, wants to accept responsibility for personal or professional problems. Furthermore, from a community development standpoint, it is very disheartening to encourage cooperation and progress among the people of this county, only to have folks constantly tear down the community. So, for the purpose of this column, I contend that for every person finding fault and causing pain, there are just as many who are spreading goodness.
When Sister Suzanne invited me to emcee the Kingstree Lumen Christi Award Celebration, I was honored. For years I have watched Sister Suzanne, Sister Johnna, and Sister Jackie change the lives of children and families in Kingstree by their quiet acts of benevolence and kindness. The night of the award’s program a diverse group of 300 people were on hand to cheer -on the sisters and to celebrate unity. Comments from various speakers included: “the Sisters have taken over our community and brought people together; they have transformed our lives, our area, and our hearts.” For the past 20 years, through community outreach, the Sisters have changed the face of Thorne Avenue by simply loving and serving the people. Their demonstration of goodness has also brought together community volunteers from all ages, races, and Christian denominations because people want to be a part of their ministry. During the award’s program, I observed people of our community pay tribute to three women who refused to take credit for their accomplishments. Instead, the Sisters attributed the community’s willingness to work together as the ultimate success story. Sister Suzanne said it best: “The Light of Christ shines through all of us when we help each other, when we love each other and when we go back and forth across the railroad tracks that once divided our community but now instead bridge our hands and hearts to do the work of Christ.” It is an honor to be a part of the Sister’s Ministry of sharing goodness.
Last week my family was humbled by this community through the many acts of kindness following Uncle J.D.’s death. Jody said that before the coroner left the scene of the accident, friends were bringing in food. The outpouring of kindness, consideration, and sympathy was demonstrated through cards, visits, food, and prayer. Allison estimated around 700 people attended the funeral, the visitation or came by the house. Surely no one ever chooses to be in the center of a tragedy, but if you must, being a part of Williamsburg County is a comforting place to be. It has been said that when tragedy occurs, the entire community morns with you.
Much like the Catholic Sisters, Uncle J.D. served and loved in a subtle and quiet way. There were many stories last week of how he had helped individuals or had simply encouraged others with his words. One of my last memories of him would be from church a few weeks ago when I watched him leave the session room and walk towards his usual pew and as he passed Jody he simply reached out to pat his shoulder. It was a simple expression of affection from a father to a son.
Twenty years ago when Sister Suzanne and Sister Johanna came to this community their goal was not a national award, nor the recognition of an entire community. Instead, they just came to serve and demonstrate God’s love to his people. In addition, they probably never anticipated their vow of poverty would lead them to treasures beyond the imagination. In the same way, J.D. Britton did not serve his church and his fellow man for prominence or popularity; rather he served and showed kindness to prove the decency of people and the righteousness of God. At his death, his family was overwhelmed by the goodness of their friends and this community. It is true that we can never out give God; no matter what we do, he always gives more.
As we consider the many acts of service and kindness demonstrated throughout the years in our community, most of them have been done quietly and in private. Goodness is often presented without fan fare or public knowledge. It is simply done for good. However, those who condemn, blame, and find fault, frequently look for an audience and publicity in order to promote their cause. This morning I heard a song with the following words: You can have money, a fast car, a mansion and everyone’s attention, but it will never be enough if you don’t have love. So to be fair, I challenge all the nay-sayers and objectors who desire success and achievement to focus on serving and loving the people of this community; rather than just finding fault and spreading condemnation. I am convinced that you will be given more in the long run and you will be humbled by the honor it brings you.