“I just love to watch you play.”
I remember my delight at watching them find their hands, accidentally bat their toy and then do it again on purpose. I loved watching them smile, then giggle, then sing when they discovered their voice. I could have watched for hours as they colored and drew, built and toppled, shaped and folded, wrote and re-wrote. The look of concentration on their face as they worked out what they “meant” was priceless. It’s etched on my memory. I just loved that. Just love that.
They wouldn’t have understood then why it gave me so much pleasure to watch them play. Yes, play, it is said, is the work of children, but it’s more. It’s discovery and daring. It’s success and failure. It’s frustration and elation. Watching children engage in this is like watching the moment of Creation itself. From nothing comes something, and they’re as surprised as I am at what turns up.
It’s mesmerizing, and that’s a good thing because had I stepped in, to guide the hand, balance the block, or re-write the sentence, it would all have ended right there. Instead, I watched in complete amazement with one thought: “I love to watch you play.”
So, today as I watch my children in their life of play, I sit amazed and mesmerized. Of course, now they have surpassed me. There is no temptation to interrupt or correct, just watch and smile, and if they’ll let me, I sing their praises. They know I love what they do, but mostly I love them and especially to watch them at play because that’s where I can see best who they really are and who they’re becoming.
Fret not yourself because of the wicked,
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your vindication as the light,
and your right as the noonday.
It’s amazing how people come out of the woodwork when they hear time is growing short. A deadline really motivates, especially when it’s imminent. That’s what happened when my dad received his diagnosis. People he hadn’t heard from in decades started writing, emailing, and calling. Each one had the same message: were it not for you, I would not be who I am today.
It was heartening to hear that my father’s deeds had borne fruit as they echoed through the years. Though Dad appreciated the sentiments shared, it didn’t change things. He would soon die in his home of many years. A man of modest means, he was never wealthy, never famous, never in the headlines. As the world measures, he had very little to show for himself.
It doesn’t seem fair that a man who lives an honest life, works hard, cares for his family, supports his friends, and mentors his co-workers, just perishes. I hear daily of those who lead tarnished lives with questionable business practices, extravagant spending, and expendable relationships, and yet they prosper. The Bible may say that the wicked “will soon wither, soon die away,” but I see plenty who are flourishing. Why bother to lead a good life when this is what it gets you?
My thinking did an about face when a kind friend offered, “While the wicked may prosper, they never leave a legacy.”
So true. The stories which follow the wicked are best forgotten, but those shared after a life well lived are told and re-told. They magnify the goodness and continue to inspire. Dad didn’t plan what people would say about him after he was gone, he had just made regular deposits in other people’s lives, and the interest compounded over the years. This flowed freely in loving remembrance after he left us.
Not long after the memorial service a group of employees from the neighborhood Starbucks came by the house with a gift. In recognition of the many hours Dad had spent at the Johns Creek Starbucks welcoming and conversing with patrons, they had framed a green Starbucks apron. At the top was Dad’s photo encircled by the apron ties, and underneath were the words: John, honorary barista of store 8202.
When a good man dies, we’re left to tell the stories of his life, not only to remember him but to take meaning and purpose for our own. While the wicked may flourish for a little earthly while, the righteous leave a legacy of goodness and mercy that inspires even greater things. One might even say that it gives such a life power over death itself.
—Wendy Rilling LeBolt
Today: Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Concurrently published in the Lenten devotional booklet distributed by the Church of the Good Shepherd, Vienna, VA.