I tried to speak to some of my childhood heroes and heroines, now, after forty-five to fifty years. I tried to tell them how much they still mean to me. It didn't seem to register. Maybe they were being modest in brushing my compliments aside. But it's more likely that each of them has had so much life that their brief, fleeting, contacts with this little kid (me) were insignificant.
None of these laid hands on my head and blessed me. I recall no prophetic words or predictions of success or happiness. Such pronouncements would have been indelibly tattooed on my soul because of their importance to me. But, as it is, they nourished my spirit and positively modeled adulthood by just being kind, interested, attentive, genuine people. They told me the world is safe, caring, and enjoyable and that God is good.
Children are always formed by those a step or two ahead of them. Young ones watch their brothers and sisters and the friends these older ones bring home. They listen, notice, and observe uncles, aunts, and neighbors. They copy, learn, react. They take everything in. Their values, attitudes, and theology are being molded. Their spirits are lifted or deflated.
This is what the Body of Christ is about—the word of encouragement, of interest shown, advice offered to others, whether small children, teenagers, or young adults, is a wonderful responsibility—not just a chance bonus.
I thank God today for Gemt and Harry. Marty and John. "Aunty Anne" and Dr. Jack. Elsie, Clarence, the Spoelstras. the Huizengas, and the Struikmans— and many more whose faces are clear but whose names have faded. Their care is in my soul forever.