The goodness of others shines a light in the darkness

by Mary Morrell

North Texas Catholic


sick baby
sick baby

For a time, I have become the primary caregiver of my three young grandsons while their parents attend to their newborn who needs specialized care in an out-of-state hospital.

I’ll be honest. It’s not an easy transition for someone in her sixties who has adjusted to working from home on her own schedule, often in a recliner.

I joked with my daughter-in-law that I was slowly working myself back up to a minimum 3,000 steps a day, far short of what is adequate to be healthy — before she went into premature labor.

After two days of caring for a two-year-old and two school-aged brothers, I told her my body was in shock, having already reached 3,000 steps by 10 a.m.

After two weeks, we have all adjusted pretty well, though I can often see their “missing mom and dad” look passing over their faces. It became more than just a look when a blackout plunged us into darkness just before dinner one day last week. What made it worse was the howling wind outside.

The older boys, six and nine, tried to be brave but soon dissolved into tears and trembling lips. It wasn’t so much the blackout as the blackout without mom and dad to comfort them. Nannies are good for lots of things, but, as the two-year old’s t-shirt proclaims, “There ain’t no mommy like the one I’ve got.”

We scrambled to find the flashlights, large and small, and a few candles and then all got up on the couch in the family room where I read them stories by flashlight. In between, they shared their feelings and fears with me.

I noticed the candles lit in the kitchen and thought about the power of a little light in the darkness. The Bard himself, William Shakespeare, wrote words about that same thing, words that have become personal to me as my family journeys through a very difficult time: “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

It brought to mind the reality that, in this very challenging time, our lives have been lit by the light of scores of people whose goodness has brought me to tears of gratitude on a regular basis.

I wanted to help my grandsons see the goodness that is all around them, and perhaps allay some of their fears and concerns as they navigate a difficult world, so the next day we talked at dinner about praying for all those people who have been so good to us in so many ways.

I recalled the neighbor who noticed my grandson’s backpack in the driveway. She drove the backpack to school for him. Or friends and family dropping off food, picking the boys up at school, sending cards and Facebook messages, assurances of continual prayers, and the generous gifts that help with so many needs.

These people have been the embodiment of St. Matthew’s teaching, “You are the light of the world.” They are in our prayers every evening, as we share a meal often prepared by others, and as we prepare for bed, mindful that we have gotten through the day because others have made it possible through their goodness.

For us, not only as Christians but as human beings, it is surely others who shine the light into the darkness. They seem to understand that goodness happens in bits and pieces, in moments, not only in movements.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu reminds us: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”


Mary Clifford Morrell is the author of "Things My Father Taught Me About Love" and "Let Go and Live: Reclaiming your life by releasing your emotional clutter," both available as ebooks on

For a time, I have become the primary caregiver of my three young grandsons while their parents attend to their newborn who needs specialized care in an out-of-state hospital.