I shuffled through my calendar, looking past summer to fall and spring, planning for events that might someday come to be and, in so doing, missed out on better things that lay right at hand.
To wind down from a day in the office solving the technical difficulties of making TV, I sat in a chair in the shade near the drone of a fan and lost myself in thought about when I could sight in a rifle yet to be delivered with a scope yet to be ordered, so I could practice using shooting sticks yet to be bought before embarking on a trip yet to be more than tentatively planned. When my little boy asked me to come to his room and play with him, I sent him off with a curt dismissal and it was sometime the next day before I realized what I’d done, and saw, too, that it wasn’t the first time I’d done it.
Many of my best outdoor memories and most of my future outdoor plans involve him, but he didn’t need some grandiose notion of what may someday be. He needed garden-variety toys-in-the-floor attention right then. I spend so much time thinking of what we’ve done or might do it becomes easy to overlook the value of the simple here, the common now.
Public relations and marketing experts will tell you that, while home runs may draw attention, consistent singles win ballgames. Simple repetition of good, rather than brusque inaccessibility leading up to a single instance of great, is what communicates the message best, and it’s that message, the true, positive message of time and attention, that will help our little ones grow up to be who God intended.
Nature provides a great backdrop because so many key lessons lie there close at hand. Patience is taught over a canvas of endless inquisitiveness. It’s taught in small doses that grow ever larger. Kindness and understanding fall into place while it is learned, until it passes for endurance. Most of all, though, nature provides a kind of silence that’s often hard to find these days. What we communicate during that silence, by whispers or just by our presence, helps determine who our little ones will become.
We hope the adults they grow into are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, brave and reverent. We hope, also, they grow to be forgiving, and realize the need to never stop growing.
We pray, when they meet the challenges we’ve failed they do it better and, failing that, do it better the next time, just as we pray we’ll receive our own next times.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.