“A small band of critical men was once asked to accomplish a great but secret mission …" Ya, I just like that phrase, so I’m going to repeat it a few times … a day. I like it because it reminds me that hero stuff is accomplished by small groups of people all the time, and I imagine that all of them wonder if their investment is really going to be worth it in the end. And they won’t know until The End.
So, what do heroes really look like? Does he really have a big red ‘S’ on his chest and wear blue tights? Do her eyes turn trans-like and summon thunder, lightning and tornadoes? Does their name come with a 007 after it? No, though myth may indeed be some form of “flight into reality” (some old dead guy said that), most of us need to learn to embrace reality. Reality is that many of us are called upon to serve others in a way that we get little or no recognition. Heroes count the cost, but move out anyway. Often they forfeit their dreams, future prospects, or a good career in another more profitable field. Heroism comes at great cost to families, and in the end, true heroes don’t want to be memorialized. They choose to gamble their lives for a cause they deem greater and more important than their own ambitions. But I bet a thank you would be nice?
What strikes me today is when individuals or groups of people band together to use their cumulative time, resources and influence to rescue others in day-to-day battles in the war of life. They clothe poor people. They drive to the Union Gospel Mission on Christmas morning at 4:30am to prep tables, sort silverware and fill large pots of coffee before serving breakfast to homeless men living on the streets of Seattle. Other heroes teach little kids who have messed up parents how to read. Some heroes counsel alcoholics and drug addicts who will likely relapse at least three more times. Someone has to volunteer to help get the first level of relapse out of the way. And some, like the woman my wife and I saw at Starbucks yesterday, work with the mentally disabled. She was playing a colorful put-the-right-shape-in-the-right-hole game on the metal tables outside the coffee shop, when she could have been shopping at Nordstroms or just having a quiet ‘Starbucks’ moment’ to herself. But instead, she was being a hero, helping an adult woman, who will frankly never be of much value to society, find some level of enjoyment or education. That is hero stuff.
Most heroes are never heard from again and real heroes don’t want to be a celebrity. They choose to serve and do their job with great personal sacrifice for some great perceived purpose. Heroes miss out on other things because they’re helping others. Some, like a few pastors I know, have sacrificed valuable family time that they can never replace to help people get their stuff together with God. They try their best to to help fix broken people who pay nothing, complain often and then leave without saying thank you.
Heroes are among us every day and they go unnoticed. Some of these heroes never come back from their battles. Those that do are never the same. No, not many are Navy SEALs or even close. Few of them ever get a medal, and none of them wear blue tights with a big red S-diamond on the front. Most of these heroes have little training and wear street clothes rather than BDU’s (battle dress uniforms), but they all step in when someone needs help. They serve where there is a need, for no recognition, and little pay - if at all. They often die without seeing the results of their work, wondering if it was all worth it. That, my friends, is hero stuff. And it should help us all redefine “normal” forever.
This glass I have raised -- it's to those who think their part in the battle of life is small and insignificant. Thank you to those who never get a “thank you.” Thank you for being a hero. Your reward is coming from the One who really matters.
Friday, November 9, 2007
More Hero Stuff