I remember the embarrassment that colored my face rosy. Mama was doing it again? What was she doing you might ask. I'll tell you. Mama was cleaning the public restroom. NO Mama did NOT get paid to do so. We were stopping at this public restroom on a road trip from California to Utah and Idaho.
It was just Mama and I in that restroom that she was busily cleaning. She picked up any and all refuse on the floor....on that nasty dirty floor! Then she took a paper towel and cleaned up the area around the sinks. The place was extremely cruddy even to my four year old eyes. It looked as though it was cleaned once....just after it had been built thirty or forty years before.
When we finally walked out of the door the place looked, well certainly not shiny, but definitely better than when we had walked in. Mama turned to me with a smile and said, "Do you know why I do that?" I mumbled my negative answer with gratitude in my heart that nobody had come in and found her doing something so embarrassing.
She said, "It's really important in life to leave wherever you go better than you found it." My immature brain felt as though lightning flashed....as though something said, "Listen, this is really important." Then the lightning was gone and the idea disappeared as I eagerly climbed back into our car.
Mama showed me this principle by her example, over, and over, and over again. It wasn't just public restrooms either. Parks, would always be in better shape after Mama had been there. She would pull weeds and pick up trash while we played on the tricky bars or swings.
Church...there was Mama....even after a two hour worship service, picking up stray cheerio's from chubby cherubs, gathering left behind items to put them in the lost and found. Of course every time that I would question her (usually I would be very hungry and wanted to go home for dinner) she would again repeat her message, "It's really important in life to leave wherever you go better than you found it."
Years later when my brain was mature, (but slightly dented), I was watching a documentary. They asked the question, "Which is better kept, privately owned, or publicly owned?" They went on to show that people would almost always take better care of their personal possessions than they would a place that was open to the "public."
Again that lightning strike but this time the concept gelled and stayed. "Leave wherever you go better than you found it." Then add to that, "Public places belong to ALL of us. That means that ALL of us should clean up after ourselves. ALL of us should "Leave wherever you go better than you found it."
So what can you "Leave better" today? Can you call a friend and leave their heart better by reaching out in love? Can you pray for those that you love that are struggling? Can you pick up; trash as you take your doggy for a walk? How about cleaning out that closet that you have been procrastinating forever? These are just a very few ways to leave things better.
To end this little post I wish to return to my Mama. She has lived 94 years on this earth. When she joins my dear Papa who has been gone for 22 years she will DEFINITELY leave this world better than she found it. She fostered over 15 children, raising three biological children. I like to think that we turned out well, although in life there is always room for improvement. She lead the Women's group in our faith several times. During World War II she was a 5 star general selling War Bond's. That means she sold over $20,000.00 worth of bonds. That would be around $100,000.00 in today's inflated economy. She lived through the GREAT DEPRESSION and WORLD WAR II and managed to "Thrive, not just Survive." Yup, my Mama is DEFINITELY leaving the world a better place than what she found!