“Leave this world a little better than you found it.” -Robert Baden-Powell
Susie Finkbeiner is a bestselling author, wife, mother, and avid Chaco-wearer from West Michigan. Each year Susie gifts us with a holiday message- a message that warms our hearts, encourages us to reflect, and calls us to action. This season Susie reminds us to leave the world just a little better than we found it.
I grew up in a camping family, a hike the trail until you discover what’s at the end kind of family. We were people who saw adventure as something to be shared, to be enjoyed together. The song of birds, rustling leaves, and chattering squirrels were the soundtrack of my childhood.
And we were a family who believed in leaving the trail or campsite or park a little better than we found it. We’d pick up litter and stomp out campfires. We took nothing but pictures and left nothing but footprints.
I remember returning to a particular nature preserve and seeing that, once again, people had left a trail of trash behind them. Sticking to my values, I picked up the wrappers and soda cans. In my heart, though, I grumbled and complained.
Why go through all the bother of picking up if somebody was just going to come along and mess it up again? Why not give up?
I was tired of fighting when it felt so much like losing.
But then I recalled my mother’s words: You do what’s right even if nobody else does.
Many of us are entering this holiday season feeling tired, defeated, ready to give up. This year may have been particularly difficult. Some of us feel like we’re fighting a losing battle. And we wonder if we can keep going.
We may wonder if our efforts matter.
And to that I say, they do. Maybe more now than ever.
Every single act of kindness, love, and hope we do in this season is a stand against what pollutes our world. Holding doors and offering smiles. Delivering decorated cookies to a neighbor or paying for the coffee of the guy behind us. When we shovel someone’s driveway or offer well wishes for happy holidays. When we bag up donations for a family in need or share a cup of cocoa with a loved one.
We do what’s right. We spread joy. We remind ourselves and others that this is a time of good will, of peace, of living the adventure together. And, so doing, we shine a light that will burn away the darkness.
It’s the best gift we can give:
Leaving this world a little better than we found it.
Happy Holidays! Read more about Susie and her work at susiefinkbeiner.com.