A wonderful and amazing thing happened. I am 81 years young, recently handicapped by a serious knee problem and a heart condition that have left me quite unable to do all the things I used to do as a longtime homeowner here in Bennington.
Then along came the most amazing group of young people I have ever met. They call themselves World Changers and they certainly changed my world.
Four young men, two young women, mostly in high school, their special youth leader, (a mom with three of her own kids back home), two adult men, team leaders. They came from Maryland, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Queens, and New York. They came to wash my two-story house with 21 windows and put my rather large yard in shape, asking nothing for themselves, during what would have been their vacation time. Instead they worked from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.
How? Prayerfully! They had met each other only a few days before they arrived at my house. Together they were a team. I thought they had known each other for years the way they acted and treated one another. They had actually met each other for the first time only two days before. They brought love, hope, enthusiasm, courtesy, willingness to serve, fun and joy, every hour they spent, doing a huge amount of hard work with no complaints.
Hats off to such an amazing group of young people who will fill our future with all their brightness and qualities we might no longer believe exist among youth.
They came from different churches, having been loved by the same God, so glad to show in practice, the reality of the living God in their individual personality and as one body, believing together.
They took on many other projects in our town, all 300 young World Changers, giving of themselves with great generosity. Bennington should be very grateful, as I am. So please send an e-mail of appreciation to their team leader, email@example.com, just to join me in doing the same.
A life lived fully and well
My enduring memory of Leon Beverly, who died last Sunday, goes back to the days when I jogged every morning. That was about 25 years ago when I was in my 40s. I was a terrible runner. I was not fast. If some folks, like Leon, had a "fluid" stride, then mine was a "solid." I simply ran for my health.
One day when I was on my way home on my loop, I heard an almost imperceptible "whoosh," behind me. The next thing I knew, a man, who looked as though he was at least a decade older than I, had passed me and was rapidly disappearing into the middle distance.
A week later I heard the same whoosh and prepared myself for the same mild humiliation. It never happened. I heard a voice beside me, and there was Leon, smiling, not breathing hard, slowed to my pace, his bodily engine idling almost to a stall while mine was hitting the red line. He told me who he was, then asked me about myself with the perfect grace so characteristic of him, and we were friends from that day.
Leon was a superb athlete, an amateur in the best sense, who loved his sports but saw no reason to flaunt his superiority. He was totally gracious, intelligent, modest, and kind.
His abilities and accomplishments were of such a high order that he was congratulated continuously on his victories, local, state-wide, and national. Now, one last time, I send him my congratulations. I congratulate Leon Beverly for having lived so productively, and kindly, and for filling his life to the brim with satisfying pursuits of all kinds. I congratulate him because he showed that although death will come, invited or not, old age can be a rich and active part of life.