There’s this thing we have in The Forest of Dean. I call it ‘The Forest Wave’. It consists of holding the steering wheel at either the ‘ten past’ or ‘ten to’ position, you raise one, two or three fingers while keeping the palm of the hand in contact with the rim of the wheel. Use three fingers if you don’t know the person, one if you do. The whole procedure should take to more than two Mississippi’s. Use it if you see a friend by the side of the road or perhaps if someone coming from the opposite direction has pulled in to let you pass a parked car. This is done regardless of whether they can see you or not. They’ll just know. People do around here.
Where we used to live in London people used a number of hand signals, and all of them indicated to varying degrees their opinion on your road position, eyesight or your attempts to observe the legal speed limit. Sometimes not a nice place to travel through.
There’s the story about the smile that went around the world. It’s a children’s book by Patrice Karst that makes the point that doing something positive goes a long, long way. The book tells of how a good act (in this case, a simple smile) is passed on from person to person in different forms of good acts until it went around the world.
We talk about a ripple effect. One simple act has consequences – whether good or bad, depending on the nature of the act – that bounce out away from us affecting more and more people. Jesus tells us that we should treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves . Lets’s think about this. By doing good deeds we create a world around us generated by those who experience those good deeds. Well, you might say, that’s all very well, but what if you have to deal with unpleasant people who do not respond to kind words, deeds or a smile. I suppose that this is where being a Christian really undergoes a testing. There is no real answer aside from ‘turning the other cheek’. And waiting. The Bible does not say ‘Blessed are the doormats for they shall be trodden on’, but it does encourage us not only to change ourselves, but also to influence others, and you cannot do that from underneath their feet, but rather from by their side. People do change, and we can influence that change. Think about the centurion at the cross – changed from an executioner to a recognition of what truly Jesus was.
Sometimes it’s the everyday things we do, the steady drip, drip, drip into the water creating the regular flow of ripples that make the biggest impact.
It seems to me the way we change our individual worlds is to start by changing ourselves.