The Influence of the Insignificant

The Influence of the Insignificant

From A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul

The Influence of the Insignificant

Once there was a dear lady named Hazel who loved to sing simple, common gospel songs. She decided to try out for the church choir. She told the choir director that she couldn’t read music, so he said, “We’ll let you sing, but just stay on tune.” But she couldn’t stay on tune, so she had to drop out of the choir. Nothing really seemed to have any meaning in Hazel’s life. Her mother had recently died. When Hazel was young, she had spent most of her time caring for her mother, instead of dating and enjoying her adolescence. Consequently, she had never married.

At the age of sixty, she felt as though she had failed in her attempt to find happiness in life. Alone, with no spouse or children, she couldn’t even fulfill her life goal of singing. Distressed and worried, as you can well imagine, she lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment three or four flights above the street level in a big city. With her mother gone, she lived alone in an old, run-down, apartment building where only old people on Social Security usually lived.

One day, as Hazel was on her way out, she saw a young hippie-looking guy moving into one of the small tenements. He had a full beard and long hair. When she returned, all of her friends were talking about the new tenant. “We’re in real trouble now,” said one lady. “Once these tough-looking characters move in, they always take over!” And all the old folks living in the apartment building started taking extra precautions, just in case the stranger was a thief. Many even put extra locks on their windows and doors. Nobody trusted him.

This went on for several weeks. Then one night Hazel came in later than usual. She entered the lobby very quietly, so she wouldn’t disturb any of the other tenants. After climbing two flights of stairs, she saw a suspicious-looking man in the hallway. Instead of screaming or running back down the stairs, she began to sing! In her own off-key way, she sang the first words that came to her. “When you walk through a storm hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark.” That’s the only song she could remember and she wasn’t even sure if the words were right. She sang on: “. . . Hold your head up high and you’ll never walk alone. Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone.” By this time she had reached her apartment. So she quickly opened the door and locked it securely, listening at the door for some kind of sound. She heard nothing, so she went to bed, grateful that she had made it safely to her place.

The next morning she saw a torn, crumpled piece of paper under her door. It was from the rough-looking young man that everyone feared. This is what it said: “I don’t know who you are, but thank you for singing to me last night. I was ready to cash in—to commit suicide—but then you started to sing: ‘When you walk through a storm hold your head up high and you’ll never walk alone.’ I want you to know that you saved my life. I’m going to another city where I know I can find the job I need. Thank you. Good-bye.”

Robert H. Schuller

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