CNN posted, back on September 17th, 2019, an article featuring James Anderson, a plumber in the British town of Burnley. Originally found on Facebook, the story gained momentum once folks found out James provided free plumbing services to a 91 yr old lady fighting leukemia. As the article, written by Dominic Rech, continued:
“The bill, initially shared on Facebook by the woman’s daughter, Christine Rowlands, was accompanied by the message: ‘No charge for this lady under any circumstances. We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible.’
Anderson insists that she will have “free plumbing for life.”
But this isn’t a first act of kindness for Anderson. Since turning his plumbing business into a community project for vulnerable people, he says he’s helped and assisted thousands of people.
That’s 2,389 people since March 2017 to be precise, he told CNN.”
“It got me thinking about other elderly and vulnerable people — we need to do something more to help the people who need it most,” Anderson said in a phone interview.
I would like to tip more than one hat to Mr. Anderson for his humanity in the midst of others’ likely struggle against time, disease, and isolation. Without Christine Rowlands, the world may never have known of the benevolent Mr. Anderson. I have a feeling this would have been ok with him. That’s how humble rolls….
…and how humility blossoms into a flower of benevolence as I walk along my path of ideas.
My usual posts flow from larger rivers of experiences. Some branch off into forests lush with words of humor or irony. Others calmly glide into reflecting ponds … allowing readers to sit quietly beside still waters following their memories in the ripples. Somewhere in the middle I find myself as the one wanting to skip stones in the pond, but also laugh with a Koala bear in the eucalyptus tree at the same time. A certain impossibility as one cannot occupy two spaces at the same time. So, I travel an imaginary trail almost daily – between these two wonderful worlds I have created for myself. Worlds that help me survive a challenging three dimensional reality at times devoid of benevolent gains.
The path is well worn between the two destinations, and the distance I must travel remains a constant companion – a partner with me in the exploration of ideas. Guides, of course, not necessary for I am ever so familiar with all the stops for souls and pauses for praises along the, sometimes, muddy and rocky way.
Terrain under my worn soles? Predictable. Time of travel? Not so much. Low hanging branches of unpredictable life events often slowing down the journey of my daily, expectant stride. Quicksand, disguised as necessary to-do lists, stealing precious time away from free thinking. Aging – something life requires as an alternative to death – relaxing my walk with aches unfamiliar in my youth. All of these part of a touch with tranquility as I walk. At times, though, I do find a log or two under large trees providing pause. Upon these felled friends I find respite, shade, and words…
…allowing me moments to sit on certain found mossy, aged pieces of timber … to look down and take notice, this time, of a small flower in bloom – a flower of benevolence.
Small blue-purple petals, reaching to me through the crumbly dirt on the path yet to be trodden down, catch my eye as they bend their way upward. Sun setting on my backdrop provides the perfect glimpse into the pistil soul of this Prunella vulgaris, otherwise known as the self-heal plant. I recognize the outer beauty presented to me by the warmth of the sun. It’s shade, extending twice the distance back, exposes the depth to which grace and mercy runs deep down it’s core. Virgin, nutrient rich soil pays homage to this quiet dignity it has fostered among slightly decaying leaves strewn atop dew seldom gone.
Benevolence in the eyes of me, sitting between two dazzling imaginary places born from reflection and irony, exploring the warmth, humanism, compassion and grace of one man. One man, in a make-believe world, representing all of us in my visionary court of excellent endeavors. A man elected to inhabit a small blue-purple plant at the feet of us.
A substantial man, James Anderson, whose shadow extends far beyond the collective mossy logs we sit upon looking down, at times, upon flowers like him. Recognizing a giving of himself, whereas, we may have prejudged.
That moment we realize he broke the benevolence barrier we failed to see in ourselves and others in the past. Granted we are not plumbers, perhaps, but we are human beings capable of helping anyone in need within our area of expertise, neighborhood, or means. Humility in action, not pride inaction.
Once understanding our own ability to reach out to others, we can begin to inhale the fresh air filtered through knowledge, once not known, on our different journeys. Infinite passages almost guarantee we shall never cross unless our inspirations align. That’s ok. Knowing our way, together but apart, is the mystery of a two-dimensional space in a confusing three-dimensional world.
Know low branches, quicksand, and age will greet you along the way. As you travel between your dazzling imaginary places, find your benevolence in a small flower at your feet. Be it a person needing a smile, a hand, or a friend …. be that grace sitting on a mossy log admiring what could be.
Be a James Anderson for someone…. walk up to a 91 year old lady, lean over her frail frame, hand her a pretty blue-purple flower and whisper, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this …” Once done, rivers of benevolence will flow from you … carrying friends in crafts of imagined kindness to heartache in need of a flower.
Self-heal, Prunella-Vulgaris. James Anderson. Us.