Follow the Bouncing Braids


We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a disorderly way, by not keeping busy but minding the business of others.  Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and to eat their own food.

–2 Thessalonians 3:11-12–


When I was in first grade at the Cathedral School in Allentown, a girl in my class occupied a place of prime importance in my six-year-old mind.  Her name was Susan Ritter, and just knowing she was in my class made me happy.  Susan, however, was, I dare say, totally oblivious of me.  Did I ever speak to her?  Probably not one word.  Did I have a crush on her?  No way!  Why, then, was she so special?

What made Susan different from all the other children in the class was that she had bright, blonde hair, which she always wore in two long braids.  Couple this with the fact that she rode the same school bus as I did, and the situation was perfect.  You see, at the end of the school day, when all we students proceeded to climb aboard our respective busses—and all those busses looked exactly alike to this legally blind  kid—I knew that if I followed Susan’s bouncing, beacon blonde braids, I’d be sure to get on the right bus and find my way home.  If, as sometimes was the case, Susan happened to be absent from school, I’d be worrying all day that I’d end up taking the wrong bus and winding up in Fogelsville!  Susan Ritter was my unwitting guide simply by being in the right place at the right time and getting on the right bus.  Without her, it would have been much more difficult for me to get home.

Saint Paul urges the Thessalonians to work quietly and to eat their own food.  They must act in an orderly way and keep busy.  I think the Apostle is simply telling all of us that we need to be in the right place at the right time and occupied in doing the right thing.  That, in fact, is the best way I know to be a positive influence on others.  When we do our life’s work with quiet diligence and joy, as if for the Lord, we will be unselfconscious beacons of virtue to help countless souls  find their way home.  Woody Allen is reputed to have said, “Showing up is 80 percent of life.”  He’s right.  Most of life is being in the right place at the right time.  The rest is doing the right thing with joy.

God bless you, Susan Ritter, wherever you are!