Last weekend, I took part in an annual “Day of Service” with the students in my freshman class. On this day, all of our first-year students disperse to various organizations in order to perform community service work—from working with children or the elderly, to spring clean-up, both indoors and out. My class was split up between an indoor site and an outdoor site, and I put myself with the student group doing outdoor work preparing a summer camp for the upcoming camp season.
Our first task of the day involved raking leaves in the main area of the camp around the office—the area where visitors first arrive. It was raining in the morning—as it had been through the night—and the leaves were sticking together, heavy and wet. As we raked, the leaves rolled up toward us, making it easy to move them onto a tarp in large clumps. Once the tarp was full enough, we dragged it into the woods, and rolled the leaves out of it. We dragged the tarp back to our raking area and started again.
When we finished the main area, the Camp Director took us to a hill by the lake. On the hill, there were several benches placed in a half-circle overlooking the water. Our final task of the day was to clean the leaves and pine needles from under and around the benches. When we were done, the Camp Director told us that the benches were “Buddy Benches.” If campers were feeling lonely and didn’t have someone to play with, they would sit on these benches. Other children knew that those who sat here needed a friend. What a great idea!
This got me thinking… shouldn’t there be “Buddy Benches” for adults, too? How many times over the years could I have used a friend? Why couldn’t it be as easy as simply sitting on a bench and waiting for someone to come and sit next to you and talk. Or listen. Or just be a support system?
If you sit on the Buddy Bench when you are overwhelmed, someone will come and talk you through it.
Stop by when you are lonely or you’ve had a bad day. Have a seat when certain pieces of your life (work, finances, family, spiritual) just don’t seem to fit right.
Come by when you have received bad news, or you’re scared about something, or your health is declining.
Come to the Buddy Bench when your spouse leaves you for “greener pastures,” and you have to figure out how to raise a gaggle of children on your own.
Have a seat on the Buddy Bench when you have lost a loved one, and you don’t think you can go on.
So many people have been through these same things. They won’t make your pain go away, but they can gently guide you through and help you to keep going: step by step, minute by minute, day by day until you can see the light through your troubles.
A Buddy Bench would help you to recognize how many people can understand what you are going through because they have been through something similar. It can show you how many people care and are willing to help.
Because a Buddy Bench will help you to find the people who can best support you. It will give you a place to rest and find comfort and support. And … it will remind you that you are not alone.
We are all in this together. Come. Sit on the Buddy Bench and rest awhile.