July 27, 2016: How Ordinary

~by Louis Templeman

It is extraordinary how extraordinary the ordinary person is.~ George F. Will.

Whenever we hear a person’s story it is not rare that our comments, if we listen well and ask open-ended questions, fall to, “Wow,” or “That’s wonderful.” Most lives are filled with amazement – with wonder. Many lives are filled with real moments, tiny or huge, of heroics. Times when they stood up to power and spoke of justice. Times when they saw the lonely and hurting and offered love, or comfort or respite.

A lady in my town tragically lost a child to a troubled young man who molested and killed her child. In her grief she became a spokesperson, advocate for victims. What she doesn’t know is one night when she was stranded on the highway with a flat tire that the man who stopped and changed the tire for her was a registered sex offender. He was a man with a tragic past. He was hurt as he grew up and he passed on what was imprinted upon him as a youth. He hurt a person, a family, a community and he paid a price for it and now daily works his recovery program; and will remain shunned and on the outskirts of society for the rest of his life. And, he looks for ways to be valiant, to be kind in hidden ways. This thankful woman gave him her business card. Reading it he saw who she was, for she is well known locally. The irony of kindness.

This reminds me of Jesus’ story of the Samaritan (despised among Jews of that day) who helped a wounded victim of crime. Even though he knew he was despised by the wounded man he chose to help and offer kindness to someone who was hurt and left not only by the criminals but by fellow citizens who were in a hurry.

So, it is significant, even remarkable, to realize that before the incident of the robbery and assault, the Jewish victim of violence would have despised the Samaritan. And, had the innkeeper kept secret who his benefactor was, the Good Samaritan would have remained despised in his eyes.

Ordinary people passed by the hurting person, but the Samaritan, even less than ordinary, became extraordinary in his kindness. His name remains unknown, but his kindness has been heralded, worldwide, for over two thousand years. No matter a person’s situation, no matter how less-than-ordinary or, even if a social pariah, by kindness can become extraordinary; by kindness simply and practically practiced.


Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

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