An excellent church sermon, on the subject of serving humankind in small and simple ways, prompted me to visit the service clearinghouse JustServe.org. I browsed through hundreds of worthy service opportunities—everything from being pen pals with prison inmates to assembling hygiene kits to indexing gravestone photographs to tutoring young people in English and Math—and settled on a small and simple project I felt I could handle. The project was to make greeting cards with the message You Are Loved decorating the inside. I have made cards from pressed leaves and flower petals since my Grandmother Dorothy taught me decades ago. Against her office walls leaned four-foot-tall stacks of heavy books pressing thousands of slowly drying leaves and petals. The card-making process involves gluing pressed flowers and other decorations, like paper butterflies, to wax paper, gluing colored tissue paper to that, drying, ironing to melt the wax into the tissue, cutting, and folding. Into the card I insert a blank paper bifold, on which I write a personal message for upcoming birthdays and anniversaries. I love making cards because, while far from being an artist, I can make something beautiful to brighten someone’s day. Equally important, making cards connects me to memories of my dear grandmother. (For more photos and detailed instructions, see my essays Cards of Leaves and Petals and Grandma’s Pressed-Leaf Greeting Cards.) My sisters have supplied me with abundant pressed leaves and flowers (from Carolyn) and paper cutouts of birds and butterflies (from Megan). At the extended family Thanksgiving celebration, after our dinner, I enlisted family members to decorate the card inserts with colored markers, including the message You Are Loved. I explained that the cards would be included in kits delivered to refugees around the world. Upon opening the kits, the recipients will be greeted with the generic but safe and loving message: You Are Loved. With those refugees in mind, my family members, from my two-year-old granddaughter Lila to my octogenarian parents, enjoyed personalizing their cards. Only after Mom and I delivered the cards to Lifting Hands International, did I realize that today is Giving Tuesday. That coincidence brought me happiness. Thoughts of refugees being cheered, even if momentarily, by a loving personalized artistic message, brought me happiness. In fact, I find that helping others always brings happiness. Why don’t I do it more often? To be sure, our service was among the smallest and simplest—no grant accomplishment. But every good deed, no matter how miniscule, even when unnoticed, contributes to the world’s goodness, of which there can never be too much. I wonder what small and simple gift of service you may enjoy offering others? After making 60 labor-intensive cards, I need a break from card-making. But I am sure I will make more, maybe for Giving Tuesday 2022. Perhaps sooner.
Roger Baker is a career municipal attorney and hobby writer. He is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road and A Time and A Season. Rabbit Lane tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human spirit. A Time and A Season gathers Roger’s poems from 2015-2020, together with the stories of their births. The books are available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.