|5/25/13 at Vandergriff Park. Fun afternoon.|
This phrase, "pushing 5", has been in my mind since Will's celebration on April 12, 2014. Reverend Reed Shell used it as he was talking about Will's life and it struck a chord within me. Here was Will, not yet 5 years old, yet he had impacted the Kingdom of God in mighty ways more than many adults might in a life time. What was the difference that could explain such an impact? Reverend Reed Shell spoke of the difference. It was Will's uninhibited passion and boldness. Will didn't meet a stranger. Will offered love and grace to everyone he met.
I'm sure Will had his moments. He was a child. He went through the 2s and 3s. I imagine his Mom and Dad could share a few temper tantrum stories. But, that isn't what we remember. I am thankful, too, that my Father doesn't focus on those in my life.
What Will led by example in life, he leaves behind in his passing as a beautiful legacy and example for all of us.
What does it take to engage a person in line in dialogue? What does it take to smile at someone? What does it take to tell someone "I love you."? For Will, it didn't "take" anything. It was part of his natural giving. There are stories of Will engaging others in dialogue and by the time the conversation is over, he is telling the person that he loves them. There are other stories of Will making sure a kid is properly buckled in his car seat and inquiring as to whether or not that kid has been baptized. Will's words, his smiles, his hugs.... INFECTIOUS!
It does seem easier, though, doesn't it? For a young child, "pushing 5", society hasn't yet stifled the passion and boldness. To see a child reaching out with such love and enthusiasm is endearing, but we don't necessarily see ourselves being able to do the same thing. But, why not? Aren't we called by Christ to 'become like children'? This doesn't mean be childish, but rather childlike. (See Matthew 18:3.)
Even when we are called to live into our created beings, it is still difficult. To be bold in love and grace isn't always accepted when we are older. Thankfully, Christ has called us to not follow the ways of the world. If we are going to take these steps, we need to realize that it means risking vulnerability, humility, and remembering who and Whose we are. But these things are such that take us right back to our Creator, so maybe it's worth it.
If that wasn't enough, during Will's celebration of life, Reverend Reed Shell encouraged us to be more like Will. Maybe that's why the phrase "pushing 5" caught my attention so much. You see, Will was pushing 5. I am pushing 50. It is truly my desire to live life with abandon, to love others, to offer grace freely and abundantly. Yet, I sometimes hold back. (That might surprise some folks.) But, I felt the freedom through Reverend Reed Shell and his sharing about Will to live into my year of Jubilee, my 50th year, with that freedom.
I guess that might be a warning. I'm not sure. For me, it will continue to be part of the adventurous journey.
What are you "pushing"? Whatever the number, don't let it stop you from being intentional, passionate, and bold in sharing love and grace with others.
It's part of living well. And, it's a wonderful legacy. Just look at Will.
Thank you Will for sharing your life with SO many in the time you were here on this earth. I am grateful for times together at birthday parties, Starbucks, the park, and the time I was with you in the PICU.
Living into the freedom as a child of God on this journey,
P.S. For more "Will stories", check out his Dad's (Tony Smith) blog, "When There is a Will, There is a Way"