My Wish List

At the end of 2010, Matt passed on a link to a blog he thought I’d love.  Tracey Morris writes at Pen & View, shares amazing insights and gorgeous photographs, even being featured on the Pioneer Woman’s Photography site.  I have really connected with her musings and photographic eye.  Matt knew Tracey during his Mt. Hermon and UC Davis days and now I get to benefit!  On Fridays, Tracey has been doing “Umbrella Friday” posts.  Of course her thoughts the past few weeks brought me back to this picture….taken with my little camera phone, in the rain.  Obviously, one of my most technical shots!  Oh, well.

As Michelle Alaimo wrote in the Sunnyvale Sun, “Every day, since 1985,  the same man has sat reading on a bench in front of the Sunnyvale Public Library. He ignores the weather. He disregards passersby. No matter what happens, he never takes his eyes off his book.

He seems crazy, it’s true. Until one realizes he’s a statue.

‘Out to Lunch’ is a lifelike bronze sculpture of a young man reading a book, written in Spanish, and holding a partially eaten hamburger.”

Everytime we go to the library, we have to allow time to talk to and commune with the reading guy.  {sidenote:  these opportunities will be thwarted for awhile since Alex incurred a $30.95 fine for coloring in a Henry and Mudge book.  Of course, he chose the one book we’d checked out with a cd included.  $31 worth of toys are now in a brown bag by the door waiting to go to the Goodwill today as payment.}  Anyway, last time we went by the library, Alex quipped, “He’s STILL on the same page!!!  He must be learning to read…”

I love this specific picture, though.  He was so insistent, in the middle of a downpour, that we needed to stop and comfort him since he was dripping in the rain.  Trying to simultaneously eat and read his book.  “Ohhh….poor man.”

I have talked previously about working hard to encourage and reinforce compassion in my boys, trying to teach the value of emotional courage.  When I see Alex stop and respond this way to a statue, it gives me hope for his future.  Alexander means “defender of men” and we often prayerfully hope that he truly lives into that name more and more as he matures and grows older.

We recently had One Great Hour of Sharing at church and the kids had a chance to collect money to support ministries of disaster response, refugee assistance and resettlement, and community development that help people find safe refuge, start new lives and work together to strengthen their families and communities.  Convincing Alex to put his “hard found & scavenged” coins in the fish box/money bank was challenging at best.  We are trying to help him understand the concept of neighbor and how his actions can affect others, around the world and closer by, for good.   After leaving our water hose on for 2 hours the other night, we’ve been having discussions about water scarcity and what a precious resource it is.

So, when I think of my wish list, what I hope is true in my boys’ lives when they’re adults, there are so many qualities I pray they exude.  Responsibility.  Leadership.  Quickness to listen.  Openness.  Adaptability.  Generosity.  Receptivity.  Trustworthiness.   But the one quality that tops the list is compassionate.  This picture will always stand as a reminder of this desire.

I continue to realize that this parenting journey is not one where I can snap my fingers and immediately be granted a perfectly raised, well-rounded child.  These qualities are all forged in the daily, mundane moments that offer opportunity for modeling.  Thus, if I want my kids to be compassionate, I’d better be working on cultivating that in myself and my OWN life.  And that’s where it gets tricky.  Would I have been bothered to stop in the rain for the reading guy?  To offer MY umbrella?  Be inconvenienced?  All the more so, if he’d been real??  That’s too painful and hard-hitting a question to answer most days.  As I think more and more about my sphere of influence and how it needs to be honed in and focused on my family these days, it gets even more convicting!  Why is showing compassion to the ones we love most the HARDEST??

No perfect answers here.  But my challenge to myself today is to keep Alex’s umbrella out as a physical reminder for me.  Changing habits is hard work.  So, cultivating compassion will be done in the daily decisions we each make.  Hopefully Alex’s actions, in this case, {because trust me, he, like all of us!, has had PLENTY of poor examples I wouldn’t want to have us emulate!}  have planted a seed for all of us to think about.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food,

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

~Matthew 25:35

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