“Be careful not to do your good deeds when there’s no one watching you.” -Tom Lehrer, American songwriter and satirist, from his song Be Prepared
I must say that I disagree wholeheartedly with Mr. Lehrer. And if you’ve heard Tom Lehrer’s comedic music, you know that his campy, and sometimes off-colored lyrics can be pretty easy to disagree with! This silly song, about Scouting, and in very bad taste, recommends doing good deeds only when others are watching. And while it is meant to be witty….it still implies that some do-gooders are really motivated by a desire for acknowledgment and reward, instead of a desire to simply do good work. But I have been fortunate to know many, many people who do good…..for good’s sake alone…..even when no one is watching!
So today, I’d like to tell you a good deed crafting story…..cause what could be better than good deed crafting?
A few months ago, at church, the minister gave a Prayer Shawl to a parishioner who had been seriously ill. Now, Prayer Shawls are just regular shawls….you know, those crocheted and knitted garments that you see draped across the shoulders of your white-haired and warmth seeking Granny.
But a Prayer Shawl is a little different from your Grammy’s poncho. A prayer shawl is made specifically to bring comfort….and even to heal. Prayer shawls are found in various Christian and even New-Age traditions, but the idea is similar with both. While the knitter or crocheter stitches away, he or she purposely tries to focus on strength and healing for the shawl’s future owner. Christian stitchers may pray frequently while they work, while others might meditate or might just try to generate some positive energy or mojo! And at my church, our minister also prays over and blesses each finished shawl. Pretty powerful stuff, right?
I was really moved by seeing a young woman I care about receiving a prayer shawl after a long and hard illness, so I headed home and pulled out my knitting needles to start a prayer shawl of my own making to contribute to this positive cause.
But that evening, when I was catching up on a Facebook forum for South Jersey crafters, I was inspired to share this worthy cause and I posted an invitation to needle workers who might want to make shawls as well. And within a few short minutes, a woman named Donna responded. She posted one simple word….”yes.”
And yesterday, I received a package in the mail. Donna’s prayer shawl is beautiful.
And here I want to be clear…..Donna is not my personal friend. She is not my business colleague or my neighbor, or my relative. Donna and I have never met. But she knitted diligently for months creating this beautiful handcrafted shawl and when it was finally finished, she simply mailed it off to a complete stranger.
Donna will never see her lovely shawl passed on to a person in need. And she will never receive real acknowledgement for her work. And while I did thank her privately for her generosity, it seems that Donna went completely against Tom Lehrer’s advice and she did this good deed when no one was watching!
So if not for acknowledgement or praise, then what is the motivation for doing good deeds that Mr. Lehrer missed?
Now, while I do not know Donna personally, I’d be willing to wager that she DID gain something quite extraordinary by working those long hours.
Cause doing good just for the sake of good is……well……GOOD! It feels GOOD….really GOOD! And you can’t know that feeling unless you do it!
So let’s get out there and be kind to others….and lets do a good deed here or there, especially if no one is watching.
Or try good deed crafting! Like what?…..hmmmm……let me think……..
Here’s a few……Knit a prayer shawl…..sew a coat for a shelter dog…….OR sew a coat for a shelter human……make fleece blankets for the homeless …….or yarn bomb a place that needs brightening……make bird houses for our feathers friends……or make a hand-made card for a service person overseas OR for a lonely nursing home resident.
The possibilities are endless. Good deeds…..or crafting for good….or using your talents, whatever they may be, to do good! Donna did it. And so can I. And so can you. Let’s make Tom Lehrer’s lyric even sillier than he intended….and prove it wrong! What can YOU do? What WILL you do?