I had a strong reminder today of how important the human connection is, of how we can have an impact on others people's lives in the little things and in little ways...and those are often the most important. We sometimes forget that every little thing we say and do has a ripple effect. It is in the smile you give someone you pass in the hallway at school, it is in the courtesy you show someone trying to make a turn on the road and being constantly "cut off", it is in the thoughtful, encouraging word said to someone just when they needed it.
Our family has had the unique blessing of having some pretty amazing and incredible people touch our lives who have left (and continue to leave) enormous footprints on our hearts. For all the negative things that happen, for all the less-than-pleasant relationships we have all endured, we all often fail to focus on the good stuff, on the rich and rewarding friendships that add so much to our lives. We don't always take the time to offer ourselves up for friendship, to be willing to "put ourselves out" for our friends, and then we wonder why we are standing all alone. I am so honored to think of the wonderful people who make up our life, my fellow mommy friends who are dear to my heart and with whom we are watching our children grow up together, my mentor friends who lead me when I need leading, who listen when I need an ear to hear, and who show me so much about growing up myself.
I also love all the people who contribute to our children's lives, who show them things that we can't, who teach them things we don't know how to teach, who add to their lives in a million little ways. Wonderful teachers, adult friends, teen aged role models, all have had an impact and left their mark...and probably never realize just how big that mark is.
This weekend we went with a dear couple who are friends of ours who suggested we take a trip to the Colorado National Monument together. Kenny had never seen it before, and Joshua was too little to remember it the last time we were there. Matthew had a vague memory of it. We all packed a picnic lunch and went exploring, and what a great time we had! The temperature was perfect, crisp and cool but not yet truly cold. While we didn't see much in the way of wildlife, we saw rocks....big ones and little ones, red ones and sandy ones, climbing ones and smooth ones. Basically, yes, it was any boys dream!! For those of you who have never been to the Monument, which I would assume is most of you, it is a beautiful landscape to see with rock formations that are astounding and ever changing.
The boys had a blast! The terrain is far different than where we live, despite the fact that it is a a mere hour or so away from us. We see it from afar during our monthly trips to Grand Junction but just have never taken the time to explore it before. The Visitors Center there has a Junior Ranger Backpack Program where you borrow a backpack filled with interesting goodies for the boys to use, then return later. The binoculars were a huge hit.
I was struck by a couple of things though, one being that I think one reason sometimes our kids tend to become a little jaded in this artificial world of force fed media and false, plastic-like images of supposed "stars" is that they seldom grasp the fact that there really IS something out there far greater than ourselves, that our worries and cares are relatively insignificant in contrast to the Greatness and Power of God. Driving the meandering road through the Monument or standing on the edge of a great abyss, our "smallness" becomes quite apparent, and the "oohhhs" and "aahhs" let me know that the boys were all gaining an understanding of something larger than themselves.
The second thing that I was reminded of was how we often don't see for ourselves how we can change the world for others. For someone to request to spend time with us and our children, for someone to want to be with us, for someone to say "good job" or "That's exactly right!" and offer encouragement...well, that nourishes the soul. And children's souls need much nourishment to flourish. I once thought that Hilary Clinton's book "It Takes a Village" was a total joke, that it somehow took away from the concept of parental authority and tried to allow others to "sneak in" and take over the raising of our children. As a parent I now see that in the light of truth that it casts. Others ARE important in my children's lives, Dominick and I could NEVER give them all that they need to become well rounded people, the contributions of others really IS a gift. I am so glad I learned that lesson, as I think of all the phenomenal people, young and old alike, who have helped our children become the little people they are today and I am grateful beyond words. I try to repay that gratitude as I can by also being that contributing person in another child's life by volunteering in the classroom as often as I can, by being a Scout Leader, by just sitting and talking to a young person about life and what it all means.