I’ve written before about my love for the television show Supernatural. On Friday night, as I watched one of the episodes from the tenth season, an exchange of dialogue hit me.
Sam and Dean, brothers played by Jensen Ackles and Jared Padlecki, are riding in a car going to hunt down the latest monster of the week. In the midst of a rainy drive they are discussing the events of the past few episodes, moments where Sam had gone to great lengths to save Dean.
Ackles, perfectly in character, mentions that he never said thanks for being saved.
Padelecki looks at him, pauses for a moment, and replies:
“You never have to say that. Not to me.”
The moment works on many levels. From brother to brother, it says that one will always be there. Family stands high enough to mean there isn’t a need to say thank you. You’ll always be there, regardless.
It also means that gratitude is understood and that things will be okay.
The idea of not having to say thank you works against everything we’ve put front and center in society. We demand recognition for our efforts and our input. The ones spending their lives in service to others know and understand that this dynamic fails.
This Tuesday, in Reading, a team of volunteers will gather to serve meals to those in need in an event called Cups of Compassion. The individuals I met during this past year of book research will fill some of the spots on this team. They spend often more than forty hours a week in the world of the poor, ill, beaten down, and distressed.
They go to work every week, go home at night, and go back to do it again in the morning. They see their clients often fall off the wagon of sobriety and end up incarcerated, in the hospital, or in the graveyard.
These warriors, ones like Sherry Camelleri, Rob Turchi, Frank Grill, Steve Olivo, Sharon Parker, Dan Clouser and Craig Poole and the staff at United Community Services, Berks County Prison, Berks Women in Crisis, Service Access Management, Opportunity House and other shelters in the city all do what they do without the expectation of thanks.
They do it because they care. They will always be there. They understand the need to save and their abilities to make it reality. They change lives with selfless love that embodies this time of year.
We can follow their lead and give back, all without expectation or condition.
For the need will never go away. We must rise to fight, step to the line, and give the gift of living to serve without having to hear “thank you.”