Saturday morning I awoke before 6 to head to the New England Regional races in Fitchburg. Even though I had loaded the car the night before, I was lethargic, thinking about the tragedy unfolding piecemeal in the news to my south. My usual psyche up with booming techno rattling the speakers in the car seemed inappropriate as I drove out. Instead, I put on NPR and wondered how anyone could stand the death of a child, how even those who were spared could cope with the loss of their friends and family. Despite the clear skies and the stark beauty of the area in winter, I just couldn't find the tempo. I parked next to a portion of the course, and began to get myself ready to ride.
It was soon after that something special happened. A yound kid, maybe seven years old, rolled on his bike across the nearly empty parking lot, his mom trailing a good distance behind. "How can I get over to the start of this bike race?" he asked. "Go to the sidewalk, follow it up to the first driveway, turn in there and you will see it", I replied. "Simple!" he said and repeated the instruction with a huge smile. "Come on Mom!" and he was off to the races. Later I would see him along the fence at the finish. When I waved I heard him tell Mom, "That's our guy!"
The lads at the front of my race had nothing to worry about from me. After a lap I wondered if I was in the right place, but I thought of that kid on the sidelines and kept going, slowly reeling in a few guys on each lap and finishing in a good spot.
I pray that I have made a difference in the lives of people around me, especially those younger than I. I know, as with that boy Saturday, that the person we see through the eyes of children is the one we want to be, the one we strive to become, the truest version of who we are.