The power of one

Ann Swanson

Many times, we think that one person cannot do anything. That is wrong. If nothing else you can make your corner of the world a little more pleasant. I ran across this poem in my reading. I do not even know where I found it now, but I copied it down to use at a future time. The time is now.

One tree can start a forest;

One smile can begin a friendship;

One word can frame a goal;

One candle can wipe out darkness;

One laugh can conquer gloom;

One hope can raise our spirits;

One touch can show you care;

One life can make a difference;

Be that one today.

— BJ Gallagher from “Positive Outlooks”

Years ago, my husband, my father-in-law, and my husband’s uncle planted trees at Hickory Heights. We were not even living here when that was done. The trees were planted one at a time by hand. Today those trees have created a pine woods that shields the house from the wind and snow. It does, however, shield the house from the beautiful sunsets that this region is prone to. I can see the sun through the trees, but ultimately, I miss the sunsets from my porch. I am ever so thankful however that the snow does not build up in the driveway during the winter.

As for friendship, I read somewhere that it takes fewer muscles for a smile than it does for a frown. I am not sure why that is, but it is true. I have always been someone who smiles easily. As I perform my volunteer duties I try to maintain that smile for all who enter the facility. It just seems to me that people respond to that. If you smile at someone chances are very good that they will return the smile.

Goals — we all set goals, consciously or unconsciously. It is our goals that move us forward. Without direction where would we be? Sometimes my goals have been simple. Sometimes they are more complex. When I was working on my books my goal for the day was to reach a certain point in the writing stage or reach a certain point in the manuscript in the editing process. One of my books went on a trip with me. Each morning I got up and left my room to go to the ship’s library to work. By the time I came home, the book was edited.

The poem mentions a candle. Please, folks if you want to give me a candle make it an unscented one! I avoid the candle section of the stores I frequent because of my allergies. Instead of lighting a candle I much prefer to light my oil lamps if I need some light. In the country, we often lose our electricity during a storm. When it goes off we never know how long the power will be out. My oil lamps have gotten me through many outages. It is really peaceful when all I have is my oil lamp.

They say that laughter is good medicine. It is fun to be able to laugh. I have watched movies that made me laugh so hard that I cried or some other disastrous results. I have also laughed hard when the children have told about experiences in their childhood. Sometimes I wonder where I was when it was all happening. Often, I laugh with friends. We can get pretty silly sometimes. It is fun when we laugh.

Hope — my hope is built on nothing less than what the Bible has to offer. My faith has stood the test of time. It is where I turn when I need inspiration. Often, I just let my Bible fall open and read whatever comes my way. There is always something there that helps me through the day. I remember one Sunday when I had to preach the sermon. I had only one night’s notice since the pastor was ill. That very day a book I ordered arrived in the mail. It had exactly what I needed to prepare a sermon. I used the background of an old hymn to complete my message. Certainly, that was not just coincidence.

I am a toucher. That is one way that I connect with people. I used it in my teaching as well. I know you are not supposed to touch the students but sometimes a touch was all it took to get my message across. That seemed preferable to me instead of yelling and calling out a student. It was a kinder, gentler way to discipline. Often other students would not even know about my touch. It was personal between the student and me. I must admit in my adult life that touching does not come as easy. I often hesitate when I know I should reach out and touch someone. It is a way to let someone know that you care.

There was a song by Holly Dunn called “Daddy’s Hands”. It spoke of the gentleness conveyed by Daddy’s hands. It also spoke of the discipline meted out by a father. My daughter used that for her song to dance with her dad at her wedding. I had a chance to interview Holly Dunn before she came to our fair. She was doing her dishes when she talked to me. That made the song even more special. Think how special your hands are when you touch someone. They offer comfort when comfort is needed. They offer reassurance in times of trouble as well.

If you remember these things you, too, can make a difference in someone’s life. Step out and be of help to someone even if it is out of your comfort zone.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at