I recently received a beautiful card and kind note with an enclosed check of $1,400 from a very thoughtful and generous friend. Though sympathetic towards our federal government’s distribution of stimulus checks, she admitted that she didn’t need hers and would like to support a person or family that did, perhaps one seeking a good, moral, faith-based education. Her gracious gift will go a long way in benefitting those who receive this stimulation and encouragement.
During the past eighteen months, many of us have sought to help our friends and neighbors who operate small businesses; we leave over-sized tips for wait staffs and direct business toward those in our circle of relations who barely stay above the surface while getting tugged under by the pandemic. “Stimulus” comes from Latin, meaning goad, spur, or incentivize. Human beings need encouragement. At the center of encouragement is “cor,” which means heart. At the heart of our social interactions is the desire to motivate, stimulate, and assist one another. Sometimes we are on the receiving end where we need to lean on others and sometimes, we are on the opposite side where we can be their strength and hold them up. We are all in it together.
As Bill Withers’ 1972 R&B hit Lean On Me professes, “We all need somebody to lean on: so lean on me when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on…for it won’t be long till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.” I met a sixteen-year-old girl this weekend who is living in the KC area with extended family. Her mom lives in a western state overwhelmed with other children and her dad has been in jail for most of her life. She has no money or friends, and a poor education thus far, but wants to turn things around. She came to church asking if she could lean on us. In the neighborhood around Saint Charles Parish, I meet numerous families that struggle to make a living, many that are hard-working immigrants, some that have children in our school. They, too, need somebody to lean on.
My job, in these circumstances, I believe, is to goad, spur, and incentivize them, to offer encouragement and stimulus as they seek to stabilize their lives. I can do this because people have been very generous to my efforts here to help stabilize Saint Charles and Borromeo Academy over the past five years. During this time, our kindergarten through eighth grade enrollment has risen from 117 to 157 scholars, and we have added an Early Childhood Education Center as a feeder institute that now has sixty toddlers in it. Some families can pay; some cannot. Those that cannot volunteer services to enhance our school and parish. Our church and school are getting stronger. I hope that one day we will no longer need to lean on you to stand strong. I am grateful to God and to you who have been a stimulus to us, who have forwarded your kindness, offered your encouragement, given generously to our efforts, and who remain mindful of those who just need somebody to lean on for a little while.