I have a friend who moves rocks out of the bike lane.
he stops, reaches down, picks up and tosses the rock into the brush beside the road, then clips back in and continues pedaling up the road.
the rest of us avoid, ignore, curse, open our eyes in amazement, or simply ride past and around those rocks.
he stops, performs his simple task, and clears the way for those who come next.
and that says volumes about my friend.
last night I attended my son's Baccalaureate, the precursor to his high school graduation. it was a beautiful service, a mass followed by the awarding of academic honors to individual graduates. one young man, someone my son has attended school with for 13 years, someone whose parents are my great and loving friends, received more honors than anyone else--from highest achievement in AP English to outstanding athlete to excellence in service and peer ministry--his handsome face simply glowing, his smile a humble acknowledgement of acceptance.
in speaking with his mother, my friend, later that evening, she said, he just came out that way. she never had to encourage him to study, to take on challenges, to stretch, to reach higher than others, to perform well, to offer himself in service to others. he just came out that way.
we are all capable of learning, of stretching, of growing. of seeking enlightenment, of evolving. but certain aspects of who we are come in our dna. the desire to explore and expand ourselves, to be the best possible version of ourselves, to acknowledge our place as one in a community of many: these are vital, beautiful pieces of our character.
my friend's award-draped son, my friend who removes rocks, the anonymous donor who gave $10,000 to help send high school graduates on to college: each of these people is gifted with vision that includes those outside of their own experience. this is a strength, this is truly a gift, this is part of what we call character.
I know when my rock-removing friend has ridden a road before me, and when he hasn't.
I have yet to meet--or see--anyone else who stops to remove rocks from the road.
and I suppose one of my greatest goals in life is to be someone who removes rocks from the paths of others.