The harsh gusts and swirling snow made travel difficult. With zero visibility it was the first time I can remember texting friends who live and work in town, just to be sure they made it home safely. The next morning the sky was blue and the sun shone brilliantly. What a difference a day makes.
I had just finished up final exams in my first semester at university. I was doing some Christmas shopping and anticipating going home for a couple weeks of celebration, board games, movies and food. The next morning my dad died very unexpectedly. What a difference a day makes.
It happens every day to someone, somewhere…an event that marks one day so differently from another you can draw a line in the sand and see the contrast. For better or for worse.
I read the memoir of a woman named Jackie who recounted living in various homeless shelters with her young daughter over a period of about four years. A turning point came for her when a nearby church launched a new childcare program as well as a free Clothes Closet. The day these initiatives began operating, she made sure she was in line. The programs allowed her to outfit herself with appropriate work clothes and provided good childcare at no cost that gave Jackie the ability to search for a job. She felt as though her opportunities changed overnight, and through hard work went on to establish a good life for herself and her daughter. What a difference a day makes.
But while the start of the change for Jackie happened quickly thanks to the intentions of the programs, consider all the variables that had to be put in place for those programs to happen. It was likely many months or even years in the making from idea to launch. There would have been organizational meetings, fundraising, staffing searches, calls for volunteers, donations of clothes, food and toys, and all the work in creating space for the Clothes Closet and the Childcare Centre. Jackie had no idea all of this work was happening. She was just trying to get by day to day in what she despaired was a hopeless situation. But because of all that was taking place several blocks away by people she did not know, Jackie was given an opening to put her life on a new trajectory.
The same thing occurs when a new well is dug, a relief truck arrives, a shelter serves meals, a fundraising effort is launched, or anything that involves the ambitions of someone to bring what is needed to someone else. It can happen on smaller, but equally important scales, too. A bouquet of flowers, an offer to do laundry, the delivery of a meal, or any gesture that helps someone get through a rough time and reminds them they are not alone. It will take thought, time or money, but all of that effort could make an impact on someone who just needs to know that someone cares enough to do something. For the person on the receiving end, it just might set up the moment that makes the difference.
A family of five was going to be given a lesson in giving, thanks to an idea the father had. Each week for one year, they gave up a take-out meal and kept track of the money that would have been spent. At the end of the year they would each be given input into where that money would be donated. The year ended, and just prior to sitting down to make that determination, they learned of a family who was facing eviction after a health emergency and job loss put them behind in the rent. The amount saved over the year by giving up take-out was almost exactly what was needed to pay the back rent. The decision was made. A year in the making for one family was an overnight blessing for another. We should never underestimate what we are doing, no matter how small the gesture might seem, because we never know what the potential might be.
Far more than a song lyric or movie quote, the idea of a situation changing in a heartbeat is a reality for every single one of us. Something we initiate today may take weeks, month or years to come to fruition, but when it does it could be an overnight miracle to someone else. Just imagine all the things we could start today that could very well give someone else the chance to marvel at what a difference a day makes. That's my outlook.