Friday, May 5, 2006
It seems, these days, that many of my heroes are quite a bit younger than I am. I realized this one morning when I was feeling decidedly uninspired and one of my Sunday School students' Instant Messaging tone rang through on my computer letting me know that she wanted to chat. I pushed myself out of the comfy chair in my office and shuffled over to my desk, thinking of how generous I would be in having this “chat” with her instead sitting in the sun like a cat and praying about the depression-like feelings that were again descending around my shoulders like a damp fog along the ocean on a summer evening. But was I brought up short.
This 19 year old Mother Teresa was just "being in touch" to let me know that she had been praying for the world and God told her to check up on me. Check up on me???? My first reaction was how bold...here was a teenager checking up on me, her Sunday School teacher and the Christian Science practitioner she herself often called for healing through prayer. But my second response was awe. At her age I would no more have had the courage to follow through on that message from God…much less praying for the world before I went to school. I swallowed deeply and decided to be honest with her. Thank you, I began, I needed to be woken up from the mesmerism of dark thoughts and personal doubts seeping into my day by her tender care. My young hero offered to pray for me and within about 24 hours I was not only free from some of the depression-like symptoms I had been struggling with off and on for about a year, but I began to find some spiritual clarity in direction about difficult decisions that I had been struggling with and avoiding for some years. This young woman taught me much that day about Christian courage.
Another young hero is my friend, Dee. Dee is a nickname given to young man whose large family moved to the United States from Africa in order to enroll he and his siblings in a school where character education is still being pioneered a century after it was first founded. Dee, although an excellent student and athlete who would have been eagerly received at a number of colleges and universities following his graduation from high school, chose to enlist in the United States Army rather than accept scholarship and grants that he was extended in order to help fund his younger siblings education and assist in supporting his family. Dee is a man of great humility. A man who would never "put himself out there" and yet his integrity, humility, strength and grace were recognized by his superiors during his basic and specialized training and he was recommended for a commission to West Point based on these qualities alone. Six months earlier Dee wasn't even a citizen of the United States, today his is serving this country in Iraq while waiting for his orders to “show up” for his first term at West Point. When he called from Fort Hood Texas to let me know that he had received his commission he asked me to be discreet in sharing his news as he didn't want to seem less than humble in speaking about this extraordinary unfoldment of good in his life.
Heroes aren’t always people we look up to…sometimes they are people we haven’t even had the grace to look at…who…for whatever reason…become central in our lives.
The Good Samaritan represents that kind of a hero for me. The man who is left wounded on the side of the road probably wouldn’t have chosen the Samaritan as his good buddy, but he never had a greater model of human heroism than the man who only days before would have been a stranger and a foreigner to him…a nameless face on a rocky path.
So…today as I go about my day…I am going to look for heroes in unlikely places. I will try to listen to a child with more expectation that this may be the very voice of God in my life…and maybe, just maybe I will hear that message of forgiveness, mercy, or tender care that my heart is crying out for…or maybe I will be given a reason to smile…a hug on the run….a offer to take my hand as we cross the street …these too would be the gifts of a young hero to the broken-hearted or the wounded…
Where will you find a hero today?