By Anna Von Reitz
Thursday, July 30, 2020
“Go the extra mile,” my Mother would chide and wave her hand, as if the sacrifice she expected was nothing more than a bit of lint on a sweater.
Carry ten sacks of groceries up three flights of stairs. Go visit the inmates. Comfort the elderly. Bring bouquets of flowers for the hospital front desk. Donate the homemade apple jelly you slaved over to the church bazaar. Volunteer to scrub floors and carry bedpans at the VA Hospital. Just do it.
“You can afford to go the extra mile,” she’d say with ultimate confidence.
Make decorations for the dance you will never go to. Be the Sag Wagon for those in the race. Be content to sit on the bench in a head-to-toe Tiger Mascot suit. It’s okay. It’s all okay. Put your extra pennies in the collection tin at the grocery store. Sew blankets for Salvation Army to give to families in need. Don’t even think about it.
“Count your blessings!” she’d roar and then, with a quirk of the eyebrow, “When’s the last time you went hungry?”
True. So do what needs to be done. Get on your bicycle and take the sewing to Miss Susan. She needs to make some extra money this month. And help Uncle Merton shingle his roof. You can carry a couple shingles up a ladder! (It’s only a couple hundred trips up and down.) It’s time to plant the community garden, but first, you’ll have to take the rototiller to it….. and on and on.
Go the extra mile. Boy, I thought, this “mile” goes on forever! If it were only a mile, I’d have ten laps around the Earth!
Dad needs you to prune the apple and plum trees this year. (There goes my social life for a month.) The work crew needs lunch and coffee. (Lunch for 15 men, with dessert, and plenty of coffee, by noon. Coming right up….) Can you help Albert with his algebra? (Wonderful. It wasn’t bad enough I had to learn it myself, I also have to teach it.) And the choir is singing at the sunrise service.
Oh, joy…. that also means get up an hour early to feed and water the cows. And the dog and the chickens. O-dark-thirty just turned into plain dark.
And while you are at it….Bunny LeFevre needs you to help serve coffee at the VFW next Wednesday —and on Thursday morning, it’s our turn to clean the Town hall for the meeting that night. (Picture fifty of the dustiest chairs in all of creation, all needing every rung and seat to be in white glove condition. P. S. You can forget about going swimming with the rest of the girls.) Oh, and Olive Kimball needs donations for the Bake Sale on Saturday. You know she loves your Walnut Brownies…..
But that’s not the point, is it? Go the extra mile. Give back. Make it work. Make things happen.
It never occurred to me as a child or young adult that “going the extra mile” is an ethos and a way of life. The connection to Yeshuah’s shirt —- the one we are supposed to give away — wasn’t always apparent. Early on, it just seemed like a lot of extra work for no certain outcome.
What person in their right mind, I used to wonder, would embrace a lot of extra work for no certain outcome? — as I watched my parents sail over the horizon, bearing burdens they didn’t have to bear. Unwanted children landed on their doorstep, unemployed vagrants, lost dogs, alcoholic friends….
What, ho, my Mother would rub her hands gleefully and jump right in. No job too big or too small. Grow an extra acre of squash for the Food Bank? No problem.
Right. And she never doubted that she could do it, either. Whatever the challenge was, she was ready, all five-foot-nothing of her. Like my Father, I used to draw a deep breath, hold it, and slowly release…. if life didn’t offer enough opportunities to “go the extra mile” she’d go out and find more.
Recently, I found an unwanted thirty-year-old motor home that was still salvageable and gave it to a family that was living in a tent. Now, (in all our spare time, right?) we are helping them get ready for winter, slathering goop on the roof, insulating doors and windows, repairing electrical systems….
Somewhere in the midst of this endeavor, the Dad turned and looked me in the eye and said, “Why are you doing this? Why do you even care what happens to us?”
I was tempted to quip something like, “Frozen neighbors isn’t an option.” — but I didn’t. I stopped and thought about it. I realized that I was just “going the extra mile” with no doubt that I could do it, and no big question whether or not I should.
This family was hit by a trifecta of health problems, job loss and home loss. None of it was their fault, but they’d reached such a depth of destitution that there was no way for them to climb out, unless somebody stopped to help.
The man was looking at me with a combination of suspicion and wonder.
What did I want in return? He couldn’t imagine anything that he had left to give, and as everybody knows, people don’t take on a lot of extra work for no certain outcome….
Unless, that is, they just pick up the extra mile, the extra job, the extra child, the extra motorhome renovation— and sail on. Our ragtag band of Merry Men living out here in the Big Lake Forest will get the job done before winter sets in.
This family will have a small but secure shelter from the storm, and good neighbors who have been blessed enough to have snow plowing equipment and freezers full of fish and moose meat to share. This family will get by and so will we, because some of us remember that old extra mile, having trodden over it many times before.
They are learning the hard way — on the receiving end — what it means to be an American. The day will come when the Father of this family will shake himself awake from his bad dreams and realize how much he has. And then, like generations of Americans before him, he’ll learn to walk that extra mile.
This country needs to remember its hard-scrabble heritage. It’s time to remember what we do when our country and our neighbors are in trouble. Get off your couches and turn off the television. Look around.
What can you do to help? Where’s the burden you can carry? What’s the errand that you can run? The food you can deliver? The wisdom you can share? The skill you can bring to bear? The tools rusting in your basement? The clothes and extra shoes in your closet? The comfort you can render?
Once you start looking, that old extra mile opens up in all directions. It’s there waiting for you, in your neighborhood, in your town, in your city. Right now.
And all those in need are giving you the precious opportunity to give, and to care, and to live and let live. And yes, an opportunity to welcome a brother or sister home to America.
Don’t waste time feeling afraid of a virus that hasn’t even been isolated or identified. No such beastie as “Covid 19” has even been shown to exist. So ask yourselves — how are they testing for or developing a vaccine for a virus that they haven’t even identified? Hello?
Think about that, in full view of all the Big Lies that the media and the government corporations have been telling everyone for years.
Don’t be overwhelmed, get moving. Have that cheerful confidence that you can go the extra mile. Just do it. Put one foot in front of the other, join together, and cover the distance.