Chivalry = the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, especially courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak.
We were getting out of the car quickly. My husband was unbuckling our then 3 year old son and I was getting our then infant son. “What’s that?”, asked the 3 year old.
“A woman who probably lives in that retirement home over there,” my husband answered after making a quick glance over his shoulder. He pointed to the large building on the other side of the doctor’s office we were heading to.
“What’s she doing?” She was slumped in her wheelchair, walking it backwards, wearily, with a small plastic bag on her lap. She wore her rubber soled house slippers, and her legs were tremendously thin between the tops of them and the bottom of her dress.
“Probably walking home from the drug store.” He pointed to the pharmacy about a block away. My husband started walking briskly towards the office with our tot in his arms. I have to trot to keep up with him when he walks that way, and that day I went behind him with the baby and the diaper bag as we stayed close to the row of parked cars.
“Let’s go help her”, our tot enthusiastically suggested, looking back at her over his father’s shoulder.
“No. We’re late for our appointment.” He screamed and reached over his father towards the old woman in despair.
A few days later, the boys and I were on the way home from playgroup. I was trying to explain why our 3 year old should have made some better choices. Before I knew where the words came from, they seemed to bypass me to where they were going:
“Never miss an opportunity to do what’s right.”
“Then why didn’t we help that old lady in the wheelchair?”, came from the backseat.
Fast forward nearly 4 years. I was watching The Drop Box trailer and the boy is now 7 years old, and he’s sitting on the arm of the chair next to me. The Drop Box is a documentary about a Pastor in Seoul who installed a drop box for unwanted babies in the wall of his home.
“Do people bring ALL the unwanted babies to his box?” he interrupted.
“No.” I was trying to watch.
“Maybe they don’t know about it…”
“Doesn’t he put up signs?”
Now, I’m getting frustrated. I really wanted to watch the trailer. “I don’t know.”
“Does he go out and look for all the babies that people don’t bring to him?”
“No,” I said; the trailer was over now.
“Why doesn’t he go looking for them?”
“He has to take care of the babies people bring him.”
“Somebody else could care for those while he went out. He has to go look for the rest.” He was becoming very pale.
“No. He can’t; he can’t save them all. He has to focus on what he can do.” I heard myself actually saying that. What is there to say? It is very complicated.
“He HAS to try!”
Before his words left the air, I remembered “Does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” (Matthew 18:12b)
Suddenly, a thread was pulled in the cloth of my time, and in the gathers, that first moment came immediately next to this one. I could hear in my mind a voice saying,
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2)
“Which of these three [priest, Levite, Samaritan], do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy [the Samaritan].” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”” (Luke 10:36-37)
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40).
The way he sees it, there is no inconvenience too great when someone is in need. Indeed, someone in need is worth the sacrifice required to help them. His young faith sees this very clearly, very simply. He is but a child, and his heart longs to help those weaker.
Chivalry is not dead.