Are you sick of watching the news?  Tired of reading the paper?  Is the Drudge Report making you depressed?  It is difficult to get through the day without feeling overwhelmed by the onslaught of bad news on the economy, the oil spill in the Gulf, the one-sided attacks on Pope Benedict and the Church…the list is endless.  It is incredibly rare for the media to show the positive and uplifting stories we all hope are out there, but rarely see.  Well, I have one for you.

My oldest son has high-functioning autism.  You may know that children on the autism spectrum often live with a host of challenges around interacting with others, making friends and living independently.  Parents of children with autism often feel that they live in an isolated vacuum and wonder if anybody really understands how difficult our lives can be.

My wife received a call the other day from a friend of hers in our neighborhood who has had enormous struggles of her own.  She has fought her way back from a life threatening illness and her husband lost his job several months ago.  This woman would have every justifiable reason to retreat from the world, focus on her own problems and not worry about her neighbors.  But, this woman is different.  This woman is a true Good Samaritan because she called to ask if Alex would like a job watering her plants and collecting her mail while her family is on vacation this summer.  I don’t think she has ever even met Alex, but she was able to look past her own problems and show unbelievable kindness to our son.  I can’t tell you how overwhelmed my wife and I felt at her kindness and generosity.  I get teary eyed at the thought of it.

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but he has never had a job before.  He has never been held responsible for anything outside of school or our home before.  He has certainly never been paid for any kind of work outside of the home.  For seven days at the end of this month, Alex will be like the “other kids” who have summer jobs.  He will feel important, responsible and needed.  He will earn a few dollars to spend on something he wants and feel the satisfaction of using money he earned to buy it.  My wife and I will feel the cautious hope that some day other generous Good Samaritans like our neighbor will look beyond their own struggles and extend opportunities to our son as he makes his way in the world.  What an incredible gift she has given our family.

I am sharing this brief story with you as encouragement that we all have a Good Samaritan somewhere deep within us.  It is easy to get lost in our own problems, but we have opportunities every day to reach out to people struggling all around us.  Our neighbor was able to look beyond her own challenges and demonstrate a random act of incredible kindness to our son. 

Who can you and I help today?

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