Mother Theresa once said, “ We are all pencils in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world”.
In the wake of Run to the Sun, our fourth annual overnight relay through the Texas hill country, we received a letter from someone named Jack, whom I’ve never met.
In the letter Jack describes his experience of the event and his own challenge in the wee hours of the night as he ran his leg of the 90 mile trek back to Austin.
“I cannot stop thinking about the Run to the Sun……….Although this leg was extremely hard for me physically and emotionally, God told me not to give up and to keep running. The blisters on my feet, the tightening pain in my hamstrings, calves and knees plus the feeling of distress alone on Highway 360 were all washed away by the thought of your family……….I admire and commend you for not giving up. By fighting hard and raising awareness, God has used the Benson family to bring hope to others affected by orphan diseases.”
I was stunned by the feeling of reciprocity when I read his letter because I could just as easily have been writing that letter to Jack……. and to our entire community who support and sustain our efforts, thanking them for the courage to not give up. It was as if God had written a message of encouragement and hope that He passed along to us through Jack.
The word reciprocity lingered in my mind and I reflected not only on the reciprocity of his letter, but the reciprocity of mankind and just how beautifully orchestrated our influence in the lives of others can be.
This year, we added a 2K Fun Run to welcome the overnight runners as they crossed the finish line early on Sunday morning. I marveled not only at the boundless energy and the animation and life that the children brought to the event, but also at what they were able to achieve through their own creative fundraising.
I had watched them for an entire semester as they gained enthusiasm and confidence in their own ability to make a splash and make a difference. They sold homemade bracelets and Valentine Cards. They hosted fun fitness days, bake sales, flower sales and lemonade stands……..the children alone raised $35,000!
Where did they learn to do this? How did they learn to do this? The ebb and flow of difficulty cultivates organic reciprocity and the influence of parents, friends and community demonstrates this so intuitively.
Parents and teachers have set a flawless example for our children of what community engagement really looks like. Many of them sacrificed their own weekend and challenged themselves mentally and physically in the darkness of night to further our cause.
Not only did they model this, but they have given our children a voice and encouraged them to fight for other children through giving of themselves. I personally find this not only touching, but incredibly empowering for all.
I love that they will be able to look back at their childhood and know that they were a part of this success; and that they gave other children………perhaps even their own, a chance to live in a world free of childhood diseases, like Batten. Reciprocity.
Our children inspire us to act, our actions model leadership and participation, character is being forged, challenge beckons humility, commitment builds resiliency and the renewal and refreshment of God sustains us all.
This is the love letter that God writes and we are all pencils encouraging and loving one another. We don’t always know who our kind words and actions will speak to……..but God does.
Thank you Jack for reminding us all that our pain might be someone else’s hope and for giving us encouragement to endure.