“Adrienne’s Army,” you ask?
There is an interesting quality of human understanding, that we can often underestimate the impact of small things we do. That is not to say that every little choice you make turns out to be significant. Life is not so simple! It’s that you are unlikely to know -in advance- which one of your action-choices will have a big impact on the other people with whom you interact.
This is why courtesy is so important. YOU or I are unable to estimate in advance the impact of our actions. So, small positive choices are the way to go! Help others without expectation of gain.
And the details are…
About a year ago, we had been in touch with our neighbor, Adrienne Smith, because she was sick, doing some babysitting for her. Little did we know then that the sickness would send Adrienne into life-threatening coma resulting from the total collapse of her immune system under attack from a variation of strep, a result of what started as a strep throat. Within hours an army of volunteers and well-wishers were stepping up to serve in various ways. Friends, relatives and acquaintances took thousands of small actions, food, visits, child-care, love & attention, prayers – each according to their understanding and ability. Jim’s mom prepared a list of contacts with phone numbers; people cooperated and collaborated. Grandmothers and grandfathers dropped everything to be there, stay with the kids, and provide support. They communicated not just by phone & face-to-face, but texting & email, churches formed “prayer groups” and members of yoga centers meditated, creating a world wide web of well-wishers. Meanwhile, at the South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Massachusetts, Doctors Jon Pehrson and Alice Coombs were coordinating powerful practices of medical science to keep Adrienne alive against what can truly be described as staggering odds. Amazingly, Adrienne’s employer Oxfam America supported her, specifically Ray Offenheiser and senior staff, during the entire illness; praise them & consider them for your future social action partnerships! Together this spontaneously assembled group of people in action became Adrienne’s Army.
The outcome of all the efforts is that Adrienne returned to life & home. After reflecting on the situation, she made us all aware that an impromptu army had sprung up to defend her home, hearth and the hospital space in which her incredible life and death drama unfolded.
Adrienne has started talking “write a book” about that drama and about the shared experience of hundreds of helpers. No one knows what’s inside the book “Adrienne’s Army” yet, but we already know the outline of the wonderful story. Two of our culture’s master story tellers, Tolkien and C.S.Lewis, pointed out that great drama has the elements of life, death and resurrection. Adrienne’s story has all of those elements, potentially a best-seller and a movie to follow. Great stories take the listener to the despair’s depths and soaring heights before the dénouement. And Adrienne’s story has that and also happens to have a happy ending!
Jim Smith, Adrienne’s husband, threw a surprise party to celebrate her one-year-at-home; invitations were handled by the evite web site under Event: Adrienne’s Army Celebration. Lori Murphy, of the Bryantville Deli, another neighbor, provided the food for the celebration. Please post your party photos at evite! My comment is that we are seeing the new digital tools being utilized, along with the older social tools, to empower a new, powerful, dynamic method of people helping each other. Imagine a world in which armies emerge spontaneously, and appropriately, to lend a hand when someone has a true need, flashing into existence when needed. Could that be why people love digital space? Because it enables them to do respond quickly to needs?