Soon after the flood receeded, we went to work , along with hundreds of others. We passed buckets from one to another and "mucked out" the basements of homes. We watched people lose nearly everything. All their possessions, their pictures, the momentos and keepsakes. It was so hard to watch mothers cry over the photo albums where every picture was in ruins! However, I also watched people who did not even know each other, volunteer to help. Busloads of people came from all over the country to pitch in and help clean up the ruins.
We all stayed at Ricks College up on the hill. It was the only place clean and not-touched by the floods. The college fed and housed the people of the city. We would walk into town and volunteer to go where ever we were needed most. I will never forget what it was like to see dead animals along all the roads, upside down televisions on the roofs, couches on the highway.
It was so overwhelming! At 16, I had the privilage of having my life changed by learning to help others in much worse circumstances than myself.
The principle of helping one in need is well expressed in the touching love story of Thomas Moore, a famous nineteenth century Irish poet, who, when he returned from a business trip found his wife had locked herself in her upstairs bedroom and had asked to see no one. Moore learned the terrible truth that his beautiful wife had contracted smallpox and her milky complexion was now pocked and scarred.
She had looked at herself in the mirror and demanded that the shutters be drawn, and that she never see her husband again. Thomas Moore did not listen. He went upstairs to the darkened room and started to light the lamp. His wife pleaded with him to let her remain in darkness alone. She felt it best not to subject her husband to seeing his loved one with her beauty marred. She asked him to go.
Moore did go. He went downstairs and spent the rest of the night in prayerful writing. He had never written a song before, but that night he wrote not only words but also composed music. As daylight broke, Moore returned to his wife’s darkened room. “Are you awake?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said, “but you must not see me. Please don’t press me, Thomas.”
“I’ll sing to you then,” he said. Thomas Moore sang to his wife the song that still lives today.
Believe me, if all those endearing young charms
Which I gaze on so fondly today,
Were to change by tomorrow and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy gifts fading away,
Thou wouldst still be adored as this moment thou art
Moore heard a movement in the corner of the darkened room where his wife lay in loneliness. He continued:
Let thy loveliness fade as it will,
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.
Irish Melodies, “Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms,” st. I; cited in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, p. 542.
The song ended. As his voice faded, Moore heard his bride arise. She crossed the room to the window, reached up and slowly withdrew the shutters, opened the curtain, and let in the morning light.
My prayer for you today is that you may remember that your purpose in life is to live it so that another's burdens may be lifted. That you will always help to bring the light into the darkness in the lives of those around us. And may you find what is inside of a person is the part that matters most of all.