When Russell Wilson arrived in Seattle for his first rookie minicamp, one of the first things he did was to call the Seattle Children’s’ Hospital to arrange a visit every Tuesday. The staff did not know who he was, but since his first Tuesday visit, he makes it a point to visit the sickest of the sick at the premier hospital every week. He does not visit because he has all the answers to the problems any of the patients may be facing. He does not visit because he has a remedy that would be potent enough to cure any of the ailments that these children may be dealing with. He does not visit because he has more time on his hands. He visits because he believes that love changes things. More than that, he visits because he learned this personal intuitive question from his father:
Why not you?’
That is an important lesson that a parent could teach their child, or that we can all teach others. Ever since I began my ministry here at Christ Church, I have had moments when parishioners have asked themselves this very important question "Why not you?" and then respond to the question in a way that is uplifting, soulful, motivating, and prophetic. I employ the use of the word "prophetic" because we live not only for the present; we also live or exist for the future. Our individual lives are oriented towards a future telos - one where the earth, you, and I feel the encompassing rain of God’s heaven. To me, that is the one question that moves us away from indifference but onward and upward on paths of graciousness.
There was once a mouse who lived in a farmyard. He enjoyed his freedom running around, eating anything he wanted from the farmer’s produce. One day, he noticed the farmer unwrapping a parcel. It was a mousetrap. Terrified, the mouse ran off to share the terrible news with all the other animals on the farm. First, he went to the chicken.
“Terrible news,” he said. "The farmer has bought a mousetrap.”
“Well, what has that got to do with me?” asked the chicken. "I’m not a mouse.”
Next, the mouse went to see the pig. “Terrible news, Brother Pig. The farmer has bought a mousetrap.”
“Oh, what a tragedy,” exclaimed the pig. “A sad day for mice everywhere. I will remember you in my prayers.”
The little mouse was not done yet. He went looking for the kind-hearted cow. “Sister Cow, you will not believe this. The farmer has bought a mousetrap.”
The cow lifted her head up slowly and looked at the mouse. “Let me know when he buys a cow trap,” she said.
Finally, the mouse gave up and went back to her hole. That night, the farmer’s wife heard a loud snap, as something got caught in the trap. She woke up to investigate. In the dark, she felt around on the ground for the trap. Unfortunately for her, the trap had clamped down on the tail of a poisonous snake, and the farmer’s wife sustained a nasty bite. She became very ill; the farmer decided to make her some soup, so he killed the chicken. Days went by, and his wife’s condition got worse. Friends and family came to visit, so the farmer killed the pig to feed them. A few days later, the farmer’s wife died. Many people came to the funeral. The farmer slaughtered the cow to feed the group.
From his small hole, the mouse watched sadly as these events unfolded.
There is a tribal cliché: "w) ny3nko n3 da, nyi w) da," which is literally translated to mean "Your friend’s day is your day." To wit, your friend’s sorrow is your sorrow, or your friend’s joy is your joy. Your friend’s moment of sadness is yours and your friend’s moment of celebration is yours, as well. There is nothing that can happen to your friend that cannot happen to you. You are simply a stone's throw away from being in your friend’s shoes. For that reason, you should not hesitate in asking that perennial question "Why not you?" That is one question that guarantees our desire to make the change that love demands of us.
Paul encourages us in Galatians to “carry each other’s burden, in this way, we will fulfill the law of Christ.” And so, if one of us has a problem, let us not deceive ourselves by thinking that it does not affect us. Just as much as no one is an island, we have to embrace the reality that we are so linked in ways that may not be obvious to us. We hold more in common than we care to acknowledge.
"Why not you?" Recognizing the challenges that most people are facing with regards to registering for the vaccine, Matt and Sarah, two parishioners at Christ Church, have come up with innovative ways in which we can collaborate in helping parishioners register to be vaccinated. I invite you to read about it and to sign up if you need help. Additionally, Dr. Harolyn Jackson, also a Christ Church parishioner, Professor of Pediatrics, and Vice President at Johns Hopkins Hospital will lead Zoom seminars for the public on February 23rd and March 2nd. One will be centered around COVID-19 vaccine information, and the other focuses on ensuring the health and well-being of our children and youth.
If ever there was one thing that has been made so clear to me, it is that the challenges of any one person or community are not peculiar to that person or community alone. We are not only enriched by the success of one another but also made poorer by their poverty.
It feels incredibly convenient to act like the chicken, the pig or the cow because a mousetrap has nothing to do with you. But like Russell Wilson, the Seahawks football star who visits the Seattle Children's Hospital every Tuesday and whose father introduced him to the question "Why not you?" you can also operate with the mindset that love changes things, love changes conditions. Love brings hope and a smile to the face of the sickest among us who may not feel the presence of our visit, much more to appreciate our very presence. But if you have that mindset, every Tuesday will be for you, a synonym for every day.
Tuesdays may not work for you and, in fact, none of the days of the week may work for you, but during this Valentine’s Day week, believe that every day can work for you because you have an apt response to this question: ''Why not you?'
Well, if not me, then who?