Make Positive Imprints During Your Life's Journey

First published in Hamilton Spectator March 22, 2001

I would like to offer this column to my dad whom I miss so much. He gave my brothers and me so much love as he guided us into adulthood. He impacted greatly on his community and probably never knew it. May we follow in your footsteps, dad, this one is for you.

I still remember dad plowing and harvesting the fields. As a child, I could see the hope in dad's eyes that next spring his turning over the soil would give birth to a new producing crop. He never knew, but a few weeks ago I received an email message from an individual who wrote how her father was greatly influenced by my dad. In the same way dad plowed in the hopes of a future crop, he lived his life and nurtured friendships. He was, and still is, a role model to many. My email friend wrote of how she is teaching her own kids the lessons that her dad learned from my family.

Just the other day I was travelling to Guelph with a friend. We started to talk about how different the landscape will be a hundred years from now. A spark went off in my head. The thought was, I should have a hundred years perspective on my own life. Has Paul gone crazy or something because he doesn't have that amount of time to live, you might be thinking. Well, I went crazy a long time ago, but just bear with me for a minute while you read on. In a real way, our lives are where it's at. Each of us is on a journey day after day. We have the awesome responsibility of making history between the two poles of life - birth and death. One of the greatest gifts that we can offer to others is, I am convinced, the gift of service - not of material resources as much as just being there when needed. Another part of my email message said, "They talked. Often. About everything. About nothing. He became my father's friend, and, although he never told him, my father loved and respected the man."

Have you ever wondered why some people can bloom and even soar under great difficulties? Others give in and crawl inside themselves and give up. It often amazes me how powerful the human spirit really is. I deeply believe the reason why many human beings are able to triumph over barriers is because someone is willing to reach out and offer a helping hand. This compassion and generosity of spirit is sometimes all that is needed to help those who are troubled to find their way.

Tears came when I read on as the email story unfolded. It was about two farmers, one farmed all his life and was ready to give this other farmer the start he needed. This person was recalling coming over to a farm and playing with the dog. The tears really started to flow, folks, when I realized the farmer who went out of his way to help was my own father and that dog was my family's farm dog. It blew me away - the vital impact my family made upon this man and, in turn, upon his daughter and now his grandchildren. Again, I marvel at the awesome responsibility we as individuals have to our communities. What a wonderful example my own father left for my two brothers and me to follow.

I don't think my dad ever had a hundred year perspective on his own life. He was a simple man in the purest sense, just working to provide for his family, hoping that his own actions would teach his sons the act of helping and being there for others. The email message concluded, "I learned about people. Differences. Similarities. Challenges. Communication. I learned to teach my children that every person faces a challenge...some are just more obvious than others. I taught my children what I learned from my father and the family in the story."

Yep, a hundred year perspective is what society badly needs from us. How are we doing as being a resource of empowerment to others? Will people give positive testimony to what we did for others? Proverbs 1 8-9 says, "Listen, my son, to your father's instructions and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck." Thanks, dad and mom, for your instructions and teachings. We hopefully will instruct and teach others because of your love for us.

God gives us the resources to impact greatly upon our world, but it is up to us to be His compassionate hands, feet and voice to make imprints on people's lives.

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