featured image

Inspired by the work of Dorothy Day, Sheri Wohlfert considers how being part of the solution doesn't have to mean solving the whole problem.

Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. (Romans 12:12) 
I’m sure we’ve all heard the line, “if you aren’t part of the solution, you must be part of the problem.” They are wise words but perhaps a bit misunderstood. I think being part of the solution doesn’t necessarily mean solving the problem singlehandedly, but rather making an honest attempt at working toward something better.  


There are some mighty problems in this world to be solved and I sure as shootin’ didn’t cause them, plus I know for a fact that I am not in the position to solve them. So should I throw in the towel and go cry in the closet? Nope! I was reading an article about an amazing woman named Dorothy Day, and she had one little idea that put it all in perspective for me. 
Dorothy Day was a saving grace to so many who were left physically, spiritually, and emotionally crippled by the devastation of the Great Depression. Her motives and actions were genuine, compassionate, and life-changing. She provided a beacon of hope during a time when there wasn’t much.  

She didn’t solve the financial problems of the day, but she worked in her own way to be part of the solution, one person and one family at a time. She didn’t offer money, but rather provided the most basic needs for those who were suffering. She offered dignity, shelter, hope, and joy—so much joy. She didn’t give a lot, but what she gave mattered greatly. She said,  

We contribute to the misery of the world if we ignore beauty and joy in life. If we seek the will of the One who sent Jesus, we need to open our hearts to joy. 




It’s not hard to find the problems, but we get in a big pickle when we have an even harder time finding the beauty around us. It isn’t often we see a smiling baby or a gorgeous harvest moon on the front page of the paper or in our newsfeed, but when we do see them, they give us a lift. Who doesn’t love a good giggling baby video shared on social media? They just let us escape for a few minutes.  

After reading about Dorothy Day, I realized my role in the solution was easier than I thought. It’s my job to connect with beauty and joy. John Ruskin was a famous art critic from England who used to say, “We have the duty of delight.” That line made me realize we sometimes see joy and beauty and peaceful things as frivolous and unproductive. We think we have to work and take things to task and ponder serious matters in order to be responsible, informed citizens. Did you hear that? I think God just belly laughed! We’ve got it so twisted up it isn’t even funny. 
God is the maker of joy and beauty, not the creator of what is evil, cynical, corrupt, or absurd—so why not focus on the things He made and leave the rest of the mess alone? Dorothy Day didn’t solve the problems of the Great Depression, but she sure was a solution to those to whom she was able to bring delight. Sounds like a much better way to spend my day. What do you think?  


Click to tweet:
We sometimes see joy and beauty and peaceful things as frivolous and unproductive. #CatholicMom


A Seed to Plant: Take some time to sit and make a list of things in your world that are beautiful and joyful and then go about the duty of delighting in them instead of stewing over problems you can’t solve. It is perhaps the most important work we can do!  
Blessings on your day! 



Copyright 2023 Sheri Wohlfert
Images: (top, bottom) Canva; (center) Unknown monks--Subiaco Abbey, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons