Reflection #5

“The Hope of Results”

One of the most difficult things about visiting the nursing home is that we can’t always see the positive results of our actions.

Maybe we will be forgotten five minutes after we leave. Yes, that is true. But for the time we are there, we are making people happy, and that time can never be taken away.

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed — there are so many people in need — we can’t possibly make a difference, right? Here’s what Thomas Merton, one of the great spiritual writers of our time, had to say:

“Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. And there too a great deal has to be gone through, as gradually you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. The range tends to narrow down, but it gets much more real. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.”

“Letter to a Young Activist” by Thomas Merton

As you visit the nursing home this week, make just one, or two people happy. Remember those “personal relationships” make all the difference.