People: Face and Connections
Updated: May 18, 2019
At our core, we are people seeking relationships, connection, belonging, to be cared for and to matter every day. 2016 changed me; it taught me that each person has a story, is passionate about something in their life; and is wonderfully unique. When I close my eyes to remember that year, the 55,000 miles I drove and five flights across the nation, I remember hundreds of faces of the people I had the privilege of meeting and who allowed me to be a part of their life.
It was in December, sitting in the Denver International Airport, after a full year of travel that this story crystallized in me. I found myself enthralled by the people I had met and more than curious about wanting to know them more and hear their stories.
The night prior, I sat around a table with six people and one common theme: doing what’s right for kids in school. I was witness to their passion, joy and humor. They were passionate, caring, funny, and loud, all with incredible stories, each unique in their own beautiful way.
But it was Tim, a man with the longest legs I had ever seen, rugged, weathered, radiating joy and passion that struck me most. The first thing I noticed about him was that literally his eyes were smiling. I had heard that expression before, but that was the first time I saw it for myself.
When I asked him if he had kids in the school system in which he had served for 11 years on the school board, he responded, “Yes, I have 458 of them.” He personally had no biological children, but every single child in his district was important to him.
He had lived in many places, had more jobs/careers and experiences than I can fathom in my lifetime. He shared about his family and I could see the deep emotions beneath the weathered, rugged face and his eyes showed deep sadness. He cared about his brother and misses him. He loves the community he calls home across the country from where he was born. He was protective and bursting with pride for the girl that he had coached in archery and who was moving toward being an Olympian! This man’s face, his smiling eyes, will never leave my memory. I am forever changed after spending time with him late into the night, being privileged to hear his story and be a part of is life journey. I hope that every person gets to have the same opportunity in their life, to connect with someone like this.
That morning as I dropped off my rental car after only 3 hours of sleep, the young man who greeted me at 6 am was so happy. I couldn’t help but let his joy lift my tired eyes. It was cold, brisk and gorgeous in the mountain town of Colorado Springs. When he asked if I enjoyed my stay, I replied, “Yes, of course, look around. To the right of me was a breathtaking sunrise, literally as if from a painting, and to the left were the mountains.” His response, “Yes, ma’am, this is my office every day, the front door and the backdoor!” How about that for perspective!