Saint Pat Making the World Better-Little Bit By Bit

We often hear of extremely evil people; so much so that we may begin to think they are in the majority. They are not; most of us are somewhere between saints and conscienceless sinners. But now and then we do run into saints, who deny they are saints, which is one characteristic of their saintliness.

Meet Pat, whose identity I cannot reveal because she lives by Jesus’ words, that when you do good, “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” This is not just about giving money, but giving to the ‘poor’ what they need. Giving and then bragging about it, like our overblown ‘philanthropists,’ means they get publicity… they already have their reward.

Pat works faithfully to design the landscape of our common patio for the rest of us. Landscape design is a high art form. The landscape designer works with form and color, like any artist, but also has to contend with weather, bugs, and constantly changing conditions.

I met Pat when she was bringing her potted plants back outside after a hurricane. I jumped in to help, but after an hour in the heat, I was wearing out. “You look tired,” she said. “You’d better get inside and rest.” I did. The next day I found out that Pat was in her eighties and nowhere to be found. I thought she had collapsed, but no, she had gone to volunteer in South Florida to feed those who had lost their homes in the storm.

She tends to the feral cats, never gossips, and keeps the humming bird feeders full. She is very healthy for an eighty-something, a lean and wiry Georgia O’Keefe look-alike. She puts me to shame, but that would never be her goal.

A few days ago, I was biking to the grocery store, feeling pretty proud of my hardiness since, after all, I am seventy. Someone whizzed past me on their bike. It was Pat, significantly older, heading out to do another good deed.

A famous philosopher once suggested that when we must make a moral decision we should ask: “What if everyone did it? Would you want to live in a world like that?” If not, don’t do it; every little choice affects others. But what if more of us lived like Pat? Would we want to live in a world like that? If so, we must start making the world better, little bit by bit.

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