The images from Houston have been heartbreaking.

Dear Members and Friends,

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.”  To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

-Fred Rogers, 20th century

The future depends on what you do today.  Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

-Mahatma Gandhi, 20th century

The images from Houston have been heartbreaking.  They evoke strong reactions.  They overwhelm.  We have watched people being rescued from the roofs of their flooded homes.  We have witnessed families wading through waist deep water, pulling kayaks and canoes filled with children and pets as they seek higher ground.  It is mind-boggling to view the aerial photos and videos documenting the widespread extent of the flooded cities and destroyed businesses and homes.

For some of us, it is just too much to take in.  It is too frightening, as a young Fred Rogers used to experience.  For some, it triggers fears of what might happen here in South Florida (a new hurricane, Irma, is already churning out in the Atlantic at category 3 level winds and is heading west toward the islands, and then where…?)  What would we do, we wonder, if faced with the possibility of losing everything to wind and waves and flood waters?  How would we cope?

Still, if we are able to tamp down our fears and still view the devastation of what they are calling an “epic” storm event in Houston, we are mostly left wondering what can we do that will make any real difference in this massive sea of suffering?

The poet Bonaro W. Overstreet wrote her poem, “Stubborn Ounces” for One Who Doubts the Worth of Doing Anything If You Can’t Do Everything.  In the poem, she confesses that we often think our little efforts make very little difference.  She describes them as ounces dropped onto the “hovering scale where justice hangs in balance.”  But she ends her poem with the bold confidence that she gets to choose “which side will feel the stubborn ounces of my weight.”

Sometimes everything we have to give seems like “stubborn ounces,” just tiny drops of compassion dropped into a massive flood of loss and suffering.  But God has a miraculous way of using small gifts to bring great healing, hope, and the strength to go on.  Every “flood clean-up bucket” we send, every gift we make to OCWM (Our Church’s Wider Mission) and to the UCC Disaster Ministries, every prayer we offer can become the expression of God’s love and the witness of God’s presence for the person who receives them.

Yes, the storms of life come and overwhelm.  Our actions often seem insignificant and inconsequential.  But as Gandhi reminds us: we must do them.  The future depends on what we do today, however small.  These are our “stubborn ounces” which we can add by our own choosing.  As we do, we become one of Mr. Rogers’ helpers that bring comfort to so many.


R. Steven Hudder
Pastor, Christ Congregational United Church of Christ
Palmetto Bay, Florida