“You have not lived today
until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
~ John Bunyan
On Monday I traveled upon a bouncing bus, retracing steps down the years to the town and school of my youth. I was in the company of like-minded people, sisters and brothers though different mothers, different fathers, but one goal: to revere the memory of our school’s founding father, the Rev. Lester Davy, and celebrate the present generation of students at their Prizegiving.
The drive from Kingston to Chapelton starts out smooth, but degenerates once you leave May Pen. There are massive road widening activities going on, you would not recognize the big bend after Cocoa Piece. And did you know that Sour Sop Bend is missing the Sour Sop Tree? But then who even remembers a time when there was a Guinep Tree in May Pen? And did they ever have Penguins at Penguin Key?
Regardless of gashes in the rockstone, the hills are unchanged; so are the bushes where we played as kids at Beulah School; the steep climbs, the red dirt. The shops which sold paradise plums, car sweety and Bustamante backbone are long gone. But the sweet cool breeze still perks you up and hints of rains to come. The drive into Chapelton itself is still winding and steep, up Greens Hill, the town changed here and there, but the clock tower still central and proud.
How far back can a journey take you? The story of the founding of Clarendon College, first high school in the parish, for the children of the farmers never fails to bring a shiver to the spine. A young minister, not much over 30, with a dream and a vision for the future. He had to fight and convince and cajole to get the support he needed to open the school with a handful of students in 1942. He had the voice of a prophet as he pledged to “…light a candle whose flame shall never be put out” and today with a student body of almost two thousand, and countless graduates, the flame burns on. Yet his own flame was extinguished a mere 28 days after the founding of the school, in a train crash, he was headed to buy books and supplies for the school.
This week I have been thinking about people who brighten the corner where they are, unconcerned with the size of their candle, or the area that they illuminate. They start small, start local, and let the ripples spread outward. Often when we dream of making an impact in the world, we look for big solutions, large projects, thinking that this is the only way we can make a difference. When Malala Yousafzai first wrote a blog about her life and desire for an education, how could she see that she would almost die and then become a Nobel Prize winner and a voice for girls everywhere? When Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus, how could she imagine that she would become the icon for the civil rights movement?
Most of us have learned that good results only come with hard work, that overnight successes are actually the result of years of failures and obstacles overcome. Young people today who have instant access to answers and movies and TV shows are not learning the sweetness of anticipating a long awaited gift. They have no concept of exam results which may take months to arrive. Quite aside from the worry of children being exposed to too much too fast, I worry about this world of instant gratification, for when young people encounter setbacks and challenges they have no tools to overcome.
Then there is the joy of the journey. When our eyes are only on the prize, the end of the road, we whizz by, not seeing the scenery as we go. Bouncing in the bus back, I had the opportunity to look up and down and around. I saw the familiar and the new, the traditional and the modern. As my eyes traveled over the landscape, my mind wandered back through the years, as did my travel companions, who became younger and younger the closer we got to our old stomping grounds. “We build our school…” our old school hymn rang out through the bus.
This Friday morning I encourage you to think of what you are doing to brighten your corner; to give without thought of being repaid. We may not know the impact of our deeds, a moment to listen or show concern may be all it takes to help another on their way. In this material world we become so enamored of possessions, we forget the value of kind words and generosity of spirit. It may be giving someone a ride, or a bed for the night that changes the trajectory of their life, while leaving your own untouched.
“This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”
~ John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress
This morning I hope you manage to climb your hills with a happy heart, gratefully sharing your gifts with the world as you go. Have a wonderful weekend, Family!