One Drop at a Time by M. Russell Ballard
Book Description: Do you sometimes wonder if your little efforts could possibly make any difference at all? Consider a simple example from nature.
Honey is “one of the foods that includes all the substances— enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water—necessary to sustain life,” writes Elder M. Russell Ballard. And yet, “Over its short lifetime of just a few weeks to four months, a single honeybee’s contribution of honey to its hive is a mere one-twelfth of one teaspoon. Though seemingly insignificant when compared to the total, each bee’s one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey is vital to the life of the hive.”
Your simple, daily acts of service matter, and this charmingly illustrated little book will lift your heart as it demonstrates the power of many righteous people working together to fill the world, one drop at a time, with the sweet truths of the gospel.
My thoughts: This book is an adaptation of M. Russell Ballard's talk given in the L.D.S. General Conference talk entitled, "Be Anxiously Engaged." There are a few differences in word but the overall message remains the same: Our service matters.
Using the analogy of the honey bee, he uses his words to paint a picture of a colony of bees. Over the short lifetime of a honey bee, one of insect produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. It seems so insignificant on its own yet, each bee depends on one another and work in tandem to make a hive productive and workable. This concept has been building on my mind all week, even before I read this book and was reminded of this talk.
A friend of mine is suffering an unimaginable tragedy. He and his wife are bereft and completely heartbroken. I felt presumptuous talking to them two nights ago. Although he is a dear and old friend, his wife and I are mere acquaintances. Yet in the weeks following the tragedy, I have felt a growing urgency to see her. What could I offer that others hadn't given her? Or maybe it was him. Still, I felt like it was not my place to offer condolences or words of possible comfort as I pulled up in the driveway and sat in the living room with my friend.
My inferiority and doubts of even showing up solidified when his wife walked in the room and my wonderful, shiny degrees that I hung on my walls that proved that I was a trained counselor, fell tarnished as I followed my gut. I walked up to her, wrapped my arms around her and we sobbed. And sobbed. And then we cried and talked for the next two hours. Leaning heavily on the crying part.
It isn't as if they are not surrounded by friends and family so I wondered what I had to offer that was unique. Maybe nothing. Probably my visit will disappear in the blur of the aftermath they both want to forget. But I was at least one of the twelve who were willing and able to give what I have. I am convinced that anything I said was not life altering. I believe I provided a little comfort for a short time. Somebody else could have done what I did which was show up, listen, and cry with them. My contribution is not outstanding but I showed up.
During the visit, her brother materialized. She had requested a blessing and I was honored that my friend asked me to stay. In the short, chaotic moments after her blessing, my friend turned to me and told me that he had a challenge for me. Write another verse to the popular poem, "Footprints in the Sand" that addressed the idea of looking back and seeing the hundreds of footprints in the sand of the people we meet along the journey that buoy us up, sometimes carry us, encourage us, and pray for us. The collective and proverbial village is holding the family up.
My contribution may only be 1/12 of a teaspoon. But it is a privilege to look back on the sand and know my footprints are mixed with great men and women who served these good people by offering all they have and those whose offering was to simply show up. Our footprints bisect and intersect one another. The sand is stained with the tears we shed with one another over a particularly heavy indentation as we leaned upon one another and lightened our loads by sharing the burden even for a few moments. Yet eventually we will notice the strong, steady prints that never deviate from our path. They are on a higher plane and often only seen after leaning on the many, touching them and being touched by them. No single man or woman can carry our burdens for long but One has been carrying our burdens all along.