Sometimes I want to shout it from some rooftop, say the Capitol in Washington, for example. “The world is full of remarkable people doing loving, kind, just and courageous acts for others!”

It saddens me that that is not news, that news is about suffering and cruelty and sexual abuse and violence, about wars, about anything of which we are afraid.

I suppose that it is the nature of human curiosity that we slow down to pass auto accidents, particularly if there is an ambulance there. I’m no different. I have to take a second look to see beyond the damage and the wounded, to see the people there to help — the police, the medics, the firefighters, the driver, often in a pickup truck, who stopped to see if he or she could lend a hand.

In these days of endless news sources and competition for our attention to boost ratings and sell advertisements, bad news gets the headlines. But lest I lose sight of the spiritual light that does shine in, around and through us, I have to discipline myself to take the second look. The spiritual light is our hope.

Yes, I call it a “spiritual light.” It is spiritual in this sense, that it connects us, affirms us, lifts our eyes to see our common longing for shared love, mutual care, belonging and being of help. It is spiritual because when we are touched by it we sense our greater purposes, hear the calling song of our “better angels” and more easily believe, in the words of the old hymn, “God is working God’s purposes out . . .”

I am continually astounded at the number of people who constantly give of themselves to others. They are of many faiths, many circumstances, many lands. In Maine alone countless hours are volunteered. Tons and tons of foodstuff are given, sorted, prepared, served, distributed.

People of infinite good spirit work for justice in nonprofits, social agencies, in personal and public ways, seen and unseen. They don’t turn away from suffering or from doing what they can even though it seldom ends. Through their ministrations, suffering is transformed — in small ways and great — into brother and sisterhood.

These people are everywhere. We have to take a double look to see them. They — and you — are the ones who know what Annie Dillard meant when she wrote, “You were made and set here to give voice to this, your astonishment.”

Wanting to be seen as astonishing is common to us all. I know that about myself; I want others to be astonished by me. Not only do we want it, we deserve it. Astonishment at our unique and beautiful being, our special light and its irreplaceable setting in the spectral glory of life within and around us is the stuff of spiritual experience.

And here is the touching laugh line in this story, our disbelief at being recognized for what we in our heart of hearts want so much for others to see in us.

These good people who are not news are life’s warriors for survival. In some measure they understand that every person says aloud or silently, and has the right to say, “Look at me! Look at me! Do you see that I am astonishing?”

When we look it is spiritual practice. When we see it is spiritual experience. When we look and see we will love. Love is the foundation of and motivation for joy and justice.

The poet Ray Carver, dying of lung cancer, wrote “Late Fragment.”:

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

There are hundreds of millions of people around the world who know that they want to be called beloved, to be called astounding. Knowing this about ourselves is the self-understanding that is the beginning of recognizing these things in others.

Out of their self-understanding and subsequent empathy these hundreds of millions, may we be among them, show kindness, take stands for justice, humbly lend their lives to seeing, helping and celebrating the rest of us.

In my church of astonishing people we sing a hymn that goes, “There is a sweet sweet spirit in this place . . .” Taking a second look shows that spirit at work in the world, and as my grandsons say, “Sweet!”

Bill Gregory, an author and retired minister, can be contacted at:

[email protected]