One of our devoted Little Free Libraries’ neighborhood aunties prompted this idea: if we share books and stories, why not share prayer requests? Or simple notes suggesting that help might be needed?
Avid church goers know about such things. Someone they know has suffered life’s slings and arrows of sadness or outrageous fortune. Maybe they have a relative who is in the hospital, or they are grieving over the loss of a person or a pet. So in comes a prayer request, asking for help, consolation or blessings.
Depending on one’s belief, such notices can have value for the person sharing concern or asking for help as well as the persons about whom the words are written.
So…why not have something like a prayer request or a “Help File” as part of a Little Free Library? For the spiritually inclined, it could collect precisely that—requests for divine intervention. For the more secular types among us, such notes could simply acknowledge needs and opportunities. The wisdom of experience, by the way, is that if someone offers to help first, others are more likely to follow. No matter how you cut it, that can be pretty spiritual stuff.
“Could someone please do this?” might add just enough specificity to inspire action. Or your request could start with a statement like “I’m going to be shoveling walks for as many people as I can this month. Want to help? Call me.”
To raise it up a notch, your note might say: “My kids and I haven’t seen much of Sam or Eileen these past few months. Their lights are on at night and their garden has been planted. But it looks like this summer may be harder than usual. Would you know anyone who might want to spend some time with me tending their garden and friendship?”
David Schwartz, author of Who Cares? Redefining Community, writes with great feeling and wisdom about such things. “It’s amazing what people are willing to do,“ he says, “if they are asked on behalf of somebody else.”
What do you think? How might we incorporate this kinds of ideas into the Little Free Library world? Gift Boxes? Mail boxes in or on Libraries, describing things that might need doing, people to contact and reasons that might inspire us to change prayers into action? How would you design and use such an invention?
P.S. Here’s a review of Schwartz’s book on Amazon: “One description of community I have always liked: Community is when people care about each other and act on that feeling. This book is inspiration for how individuals can take action and not wait for “them” to do something a situation. It is about effective networking, personal risk, and personality responsibility, regardless if anyone shows up from the media to make you a temporary star. The stories are heart-warming, of course, but more than that it is a testament to a kind of radical intervention that will be new to some people: You mean I should take action and not just call a government agency? I can embrace service to others? It has been years since I first read this book, and it still resonates.”
P.P.S. About a decade or so ago I was so impressed by Schwartz’s book that I bought 15 copies at our local, independent bookstore and gave them away. Hard to beat the good feelings that resulted. Try it! –Rick B.