Yesterday I had the privilege of eating dinner with 40 teens from five Congregation of Holy Cross high schools in Texas, Louisiana, and California. All had spent several hours Friday, in the Texas heat, doing service projects at various host organizations. While all the kids seemed touched by their experiences, one group especially stays in my mind.
That group assisted groundskeepers at St. Edward’s University in mulching many of the beautiful trees that shade the hilltop campus. One teen was impressed with how many of the other staff on campus knew and greeted the groundskeepers with friendship and affection. He realized he’d never paid much attention to those who keep the grounds at his home high school. He realized you don’t have to be a faculty member or school administrator to live forth the Holy Cross values, and make a difference in the world. He spoke of how he’ll always see his own high school campus differently after this, realizing how many people silently and faithfully go about their daily business of taking care of living things, trimming grass, picking up trash, or doing other jobs, all so those on campus can have a beautiful place to study and grow.
Sometimes folks like the SEU groundskeepers are considered to be “second fiddles”, named after violinists in an orchestra who aren’t in the “First Violin” position (the one who often rises from his or her chair at the audience end of the row to shake hands with the conductor). Second Fiddles are less visible, often sitting own the row behind the First Violinist, sometimes blending into the background to the point of near invisibility, sometimes being considered less necessary to the music since there may be more than one violinist in the Second Fiddle row, and perhaps the absence of one would not make a difference to the music.
But think of all those Second Fiddles and what would happen to the world if they all suddenly disappeared: the green living things on campuses might start dying for lack of water-preserving mulch, trash would pile up, offices would have no staff. And St. Brother Andre Bessette, a door-keeper in Montreal, might never have become known to the world.
I realize not everyone in the positions I’ve mentioned likes the term “second fiddles”, and that’s as it should be. No insult is intended. But take a moment to stop and think about those in your daily life who aren’t the First Violinist, yet contribute to beautiful music for all. Stop and ask God to bless them. And the next time you see one of them, give them a smile and a greeting and say a few words of appreciation. You’ll be glad you did.