By John Blankenship
One reason that Southern West Virginia is such a special place is the sense of community that is woven through so many lives here.
Folks are polite in giving directions. They care about children and animals. They band together during the holidays to help the less fortunate.
They go out of their way to check on their friends and family. They strive to make their community a better place.
Our humanity is noticeable through the many works of charity provided by churches, schools and civic organizations throughout the region, not only at Christmas time but throughout the entire year.
If your car breaks down on the road, somebody will stop and lend a hand.
If you’re trying to get out in traffic, motorists will make room. If pets get lost, citizens will try to locate the owners.
One woman I know makes it her mission to take in stray cats. She even provides food for many of her neighbor’s pet felines. She probably spends as much of her earnings on cat food in a week as she does on groceries.
When I asked the kind-hearted woman to let me write a feature story about her, she declined, saying simply that she would feel embarrassed about receiving the recognition.
I respect her privacy.
We are fortunate enough to know many of our neighbors, a little something about their lives, their families and their heritage.
How many times have you seen people give freely to the children of those who occupy the same village?
Whenever I witness an act of kindness in my community I am reminded that we are all interconnected; therefore, it is in our interest to help each other when we can.
With this theme in mind I am printing below a story which, for me at least, brings home this idea.
The Mouse Trap
A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” the mouse wondered. But he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.
Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”
The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”
The mouse turned to the cow and said, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse, I’m sorry for you but it’s no skin off my nose.”
So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap — alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house-like, the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.
The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a poisonous snake whose tail the trap had caught.
The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.
But the wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat to feed all of them.
The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.
So the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember: when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life.
We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.
And one of the best things to hold onto in this world is a friend.
Top o’ the morning!
— Blankenship is a reporter for The Register-Herald.