A young girl by the name of Sofi was born in Siberia, a bitterly cold and desolate area of Russia. A difficult place to be a child but Sofi's life was going to be even rougher than most. She was an orphan. Then suddenly at the age of 2 she was adopted, sight unseen, by Laurie Collis a single mother in Scottsdale, Arizona.
She is now doing well. So well that she entered an essay contest when she was in the third grade and out of 10,000 applicants, she won! Toy maker Lego and The Planetary Society sponsored the event. As a result of winning her family received an all expense paid trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the lift off of the MARS Rover.
While there she was asked to read an excerpt from her winning essay. Here is part of it: "I used to live in an orphanage. It was dark and cold and lonely. At night, I looked up at the sparkly sky and felt better. I dreamed I could fly there. In America, I can make all my
dreams come true. Thank you for giving me the 'Spirit' and the 'Opportunity'."
Growing in Clusters: Though I have never seen the Sequoia trees of California, known as Redwoods, I am told they are spectacular. Towering as much as 300 feet above the ground. Strangely, these towering trees have unusually shallow root systems that spider out just under the surface of the ground to catch as much of the surface moisture they can. And this is their vulnerability. Storms with heavy winds would almost always bring these giants crashing to the ground but this rarely happens because they grow in clusters and their intertwining roots provide support for one another against the storms.
When we are together, either as a family or a church, we provide this same support. Pain and suffering come to all of us. But, just like those giant Sequoia trees, we can be supported in those difficult times by the touch of one another's lives. The knowledge that we have someone; that we are not alone; that there is someone who is willing to touch us, hold us, keeps us from being destroyed.
Walking in Another’s Shoes: Years ago, the president of Haverford College wrote a book entitled Blue Collar Journal, an account of his experiences during a six-month sabbatical. He writes that he was not sure how to spend those months. At first he thought he would write a book about his field, labor relations, but he had already done that several times before. Then he thought perhaps he ought to spend the leave as a visiting professor at a different academic institution. This, too, he had already done. Then he got a very bold idea. Why not do something new? Why not find out something about labor relations from the other side of the desk, from outside the library?
So he spent this sabbatical in a very different way. He spent two months as a ditchdigger, two months as a dishwasher, and two months as a lumberjack. When it was over he said that it was one of the most broadening educational experiences of his whole life. He had learned more about labor relations from being in a ditch, a dish pan, and a lumber camp than he had from all the books that he had read or written. Out of that experience, he came as close as any person of his class could in understanding how some workers live.
It is interesting to wonder what would happen if each of us could do something like that, if not in actuality, at least in imagination. What if the suburbanite could live in the slum area for a week? What a profound experience that might be! Would we still talk about the "shiftless poor" as glibly as we sometimes do?
An Eye Opening Experience: Recently, I ran across a “fascinating list” that carried this intriguing title: “Great Truths About Life That Little Children Have Learned.” Let me share a few of these “great truths” with you.
(1) “ No matter how hard you try you cannot baptize a cat.”
(2) “When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair.”
(3) “Never ask your 3-year-old brother to hold a tomato… or an egg.”
(4) “You can’t trust dogs to watch your food for you.”
(5) “Don’t sneeze when somebody is cutting your hair.”
(6) “School lunches stick to the wall.”
(7) “You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.”
(8) “Never wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts… no matter how cute the underwear is.”
Now, it is virtually certain that the children learned these “great truths” and came to these bold new insights after some dramatic eye-opening experience in their own personal lives. Can’t you just see in your mind’s eye, some children trying to baptize a cat, and leaning full well from that experience that this is just not a good thing to do. The point is clear: A dramatic personal eye-opening experience can give us new insight, new perception, new vision.