This winter, one of the most popular movies was "The Bucket List," a film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. If you missed it, let me sum up the plot: Two old codgers, nearing death, decide to make a list of everything they want to do before kicking the bucket. Hence, "The Bucket List."
I admired those two old boys. They really tried to live out their dreams before checking out.
That said, however, I find that I admire even more the people who try to help others live out their dreams people who try to offer more and more comfort to others as they themselves are slipping away.
Those people don't have a "Bucket List," they have a "Bucket Brigade List."
Years ago, "bucket brigades" were formed to put out fires. Neighbors would stand in a line and pass buckets of water along to dowse the dangerous flames. On one end was the fire causing destruction and suffering. On the other end was the well, filled with cooling relief. People worked as a team to pass the water down the line to get aid to those in distress. Nobody stopped to take a drink of water, wash their hands or admire their reflections. They kept the water moving. They worked feverishly to make a difference.
In life, those are the people I admire most the bucket brigaders who double their efforts to ease suffering, even while faltering themselves. It's a bucket brigade for burning souls. There was Mother Teresa, who even while dying comforted the dying; and Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who comforted those battling cancer as he battled cancer. Another, Henri Nouwen, wrote books filled with life and vitality, even as life and vitality ebbed out of him.
Yet the thing about a bucket brigade is one person can never do it alone. It takes a full corps of devoted people. Jon Huntsman Sr. forms part of the bucket brigade when he funnels millions into cancer research. But so does the kindly neighbor who spends an afternoon with a friend who has leukemia.
The brigade needs prominent ministers preaching peace to the heart but also needs shy Samaritans who offer kind words to panhandlers.
It needs people who can take weeks off to help out, and people who can spare only a few minutes over lunch.
It needs career caregivers and fumbling amateurs, poets and paramedics, dancers, doctors and dump-truck drivers.
Who offers help and who receives it is not important. What's important is to keep the buckets moving down the line. For, unlike a burning building, the flames that plague humanity will never die out. They constantly burn.
The good news is the water to quench those flames never ends either. As long as there are flames that sear the soul, there will be comfort and relief available to ease the suffering.
The key is getting the water down the line to where it's needed. The important thing is the brigade. And everyone can join up.
All it takes is the desire to help.
In life's bucket brigade, you don't even need a bucket.All you need is a desire to pitch in.