"Heaven on Earth" Rio de Janerio, Brazil, 2015
I was recently asked by a member of the congregation at the church I attended when I was growing up, to write a little something to honor the generosity of a wonderful couple, John and Linda Holland, who have worked in the children’s ministry there for over 25 years. I thought of writing something specific about the afternoons I spent with the Hollands learning to stencil from Linda or helping John brush up on his card tricks. But, the following came to me instead, and I think it speaks to the way we all feel about some adult (or adults) from our childhood whose attention inspired us as youngsters and which we’ve carried with us far beyond the classrooms and church walls of our youth...
I suspect we will never quite know how the kindnesses showed to us in our formative years affect our lives later on or how the smallest consideration passed down to us by some special person in our childhood will anchor a part of ourselves for the rest of our lives and quite truly save us when the dark clouds of our own adulthood gather to strike their hardest at our being.
No, the extent to which we are transformed by care and compassion free of expectation given to us as young blossoms of life cannot be quantified. And yet we all remember it happening, the sweet rapture of some adult bestowing on us their undivided attention, making us feel important, making our most trifling dreams and hopes and prayers seem attainable and worthy.
These angels in human skin have the impossible ability to light a fire of significance inside us that allows us the opportunity to take the harder road, to fight the greater fight, to live just a bit more fully as grown ups because when we were young these divine inspirations of God imparted to us a recognition that we are not an accident, we are supposed to be in this world. They made us aware of true love’s ever evolving, never ending and unearnable grace by showing us their own.
This gift, which we will recall sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly throughout our adult lives, can never be repaid despite the windfall of blessings it will inevitably bring to our table, until at length we pass on the same regard to another young sapling and multiply that one kindness shown to us by a million.
Thank you Linda and John for being a divine inspiration of unending dividends to me and so many others in this life. Whether you realize it or not, I promise your unassuming kindnesses will travel far beyond the scope of what you could have ever hoped or imagined.