I love the following quote by Mr. Rogers:  He said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

It seems like we’ve seen many scary things in the news lately.   Hurricanes and tornadoes, bombings and shootings fill our TV screens on an almost weekly or even daily basis.  From Oklahoma to Boston, New York to California, reporters next to piles of rubble or helicopters fly overhead surveying the aftermath, showing us the damage, searching for survivors.

In the midst of tragedy, as the images are put in front of us, we sometimes find it too difficult to turn away.  CNN, Fox and NBC News capture our attention and doesn’t let go as we witness the destruction.

And yet, even with our attention focused intently on the scene, all too often, we miss the ones who are helping.

‘Look for the helpers.’ Mr. Roger’s mom said, ‘You will always find people who are helping.’

When we have been able to look past the smoke, to see past our fear and concern, we’ve seen them: the helpers.

On September 11, 2001, as thousands of people ran away from the towers, we saw firefighters, police officers and EMTs run towards the danger.

Only seconds after the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, we saw them run towards the smoke, tearing away the barriers to get to the injured.

What Mr. Rogers’ mom said is true, the helpers are always there, and if we look for them, we’ll see them.  In today’s world of instant communication, the cameras are on the ground and the news is broadcasting even before the smoke clears.  When we’re watching the report, it’s like we’re right there, in the middle of the chaos.

And through our terror, we may not notice the helpers.  But when we do, we will see God at work.  Watching the First Responders and Emergency worker reach out to other will provide a balm for our heart as it aches.

‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

During a Women’s Afternoon Fellowship meeting years ago, Hal Cutler arranged to have the on-duty Sudbury Fire Department crew come to the church so they could explain emergency medical services in town.  As part of their talk, the crew brought the ambulance so that the ladies would have a chance to tour the vehicle.  As they looked inside, examining the medical instruments and equipment that are carried on the rig, Dottie Boucher, one of our senior citizens who is now gone, approached Hal.  Apparently a frequent recipient of care from the EMTs in town, Dottie told Hal that she was delighted to have the chance to see more of the interior of the ambulance than just the ceiling.

Dottie’s story reminds us that the helpers are everywhere, not just on the news during times of great disasters.  They are here, in our own town, ready to show up to our houses, our jobs, even our church when we need them.

We call them “first responders” because that’s exactly what they are.  They are the first to respond to an emergency.  During the first moments of confusion and chaos, their training has prepared them to assess the situation and act immediately, minimizing the damages and the injuries.

But the helpers aren’t only the ones who arrive first.  After being rescued from immediate harm, victims are transported to hospitals, where they are tended to by doctors and nurses, where other hospital workers run tests to diagnosis and determine the extent of their injuries and put them on the road to healing.  Medical technicians, lab workers, phlebotomists and others behind the scenes, far away from the cameras, are helpers too.

And after the bleeding is stopped, the wounds are wrapped, the camera crews go home and the news stops reporting, the helpers remain.  That is where the long term care specialists enter the picture.  Physical therapists, mental health counselors, and others are there for the long haul, dealing with the physical and emotional trauma for weeks, months and even years to come.

‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

Always and everywhere, on the news during times of great disaster and in private offices during quiet times.  Look for the helpers and give thanks.  Witness their courage and strength and willingness to serve and try to live by their example.

Last week I officiated the funeral of a retired firefighter’s wife.  Members of the Sudbury Fire Department were there to honor her and to support her family.  I witnessed a simple act by one of the firefighters that reminded me of what it means to be a helper.  One of the young ladies, I think she may have been a granddaughter, was very distraught throughout the morning.  At the cemetery, she was visibly shaken.  Over come with grief and tears, she appeared to have even have trouble standing.  One of the firefighters calmly walked to her side and offered her his arm.  Throughout the graveside service he stood next to her, quietly helping her to regain her composure and strength as she held onto to his elbow.

Being a helper doesn’t have to be running towards burning cars or smoking buildings or exploding bombs, it can also be something simple as lending an arm to a person who is struggling.

Even though Mr. Rogers and his mother have been gone for many years now, their advice still rings true:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

Look for the on the news, recognize them in all around you in life, find the courage to be a helper in your own way.

To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ remember those words and be comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

Look for the Helpers

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