Commentary by Ward Degler
Upwards of 50 bags of leaves line the ditch next to the street. They appeared there after two hours last Saturday when an army of young citizens and adults from our church descended on our lawn armed with rakes and leaf blowers.
I used to take care of the leaves myself with help from one or two family members — no big deal. We piled them onto our compost pit and stuffed them into bags.
Not anymore. A bout with cancer last year left me struggling to walk, much less rake leaves. To be clear, the cancer is gone, and I am returning to normal. Slowly.
Our yard is large and filled with mature trees that rain leaves in the fall. At one point, there was a pile of leaves in the backyard, tall enough to block out the sun. Still, these youngsters made quick work of them, raking them into piles and stuffing the bundles into bags. Sometime over the next week or so, the city will pick them up.
When the kids finished, they lined up for a photograph and a solemn thank you from me. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, he said to love God with all our hearts, minds and bodies. And then he added, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
How do we love our neighbor, I wondered. Watching these youngsters, it became clear: We love our neighbor by doing for him what he can’t do for himself.
We read about kids in trouble, kids in gangs, and we feel helpless. Then we look at these kids who got up early on a chilly Saturday morning and went out to rake leaves in someone else’s yard. And it occurred to me that this was happening all across the nation.
Youngsters are giving of themselves and their time to help others. And that made me realize these young citizens are tomorrow’s leaders. That means the future of our country is secure.