Can we go on a field trip to the nursery? I’d like a reminder on how to be as a little child.
Your room is a terrible mess!
Isn’t it perfect?
You just ate.
It wore off.
After a long morning of paperwork, Isaac was ready for a nap. He changed into his pajamas and got into bed in the middle of the day. He had a list of things to do as long as his arm and wasn’t doing any of them. It was marvelous.
Just as he fell asleep, Marianne came in. “Are you feeling sick?”
“Hmmm?” Isaac dragged himself away from the dream where he’d just remembered the secret of how to fly. “Just tired.”
“Okay. Well, you have a nice nap then. Charlie and I are going to the garden center. We want to plant some garlic today.”
“You too.” Marianne left and Isaac slipped back into sleep.
When he woke up sometime later, the light in the room was different. It was brighter and warmer. He sat up and looked around suspiciously.
Usually, a nap during the day meant waking up with a bit of a headache and feeling like his head was packed full of cotton. Or gravel. But not today.
Today he felt like he could leap out of bed and run down the hallway and he’d have energy left over and his knees wouldn’t hurt. He looked down at his hands. They looked smaller.
He jumped out of bed and looked in the mirror. As he’d suspected, he looked a lot younger. He looked Charlie’s age.
It was strange. Being young again, he now realized how old he normally felt. That was a little depressing. He decided not to think about that or about how he was going to manage a grown up life if he stayed looking this young.
Instead, he decided to run outside and play. He put on sweatpants and rolled up the legs, and a sweatshirt and rolled up the sleeves. Then he shoved on a pair of Charlie’s sandals and ran out the backdoor, only remembering to close it at the last second.
Charlie and Marianne weren’t outside. They were probably still at the garden center. However, Miss Marta was out in her yard raking leaves. “Hello,” he called.
She came over and looked over the fence. “Well aren’t you looking young today? It must be the change in the seasons.”
“Do you think it will last long?”
“No.” Miss Marta sighed. “It never does.”
“Do you need help raking your leaves?”
Miss Marta smiled. “What a polite boy you are! I can take care of the leaves. They’re almost already done. But I could use your help with Toby. He needs a nice walk. Let me go put him on his leash, and I’ll bring him to the front gate.”
Isaac met her there. Toby, a fluffy little black dog, was running in circles and wrapping his leash around her ankles. Miss Marta stepped out of the loops of leash and handed the end to Isaac.
Isaac spent the next hour running behind Toby as they explored the neighborhood. It was amazing how a tiny change in perspective made everything seem new and interesting. When they passed by, the park was empty, so they stopped there to play.
Toby was great at fetching sticks and bringing them back. Just like when he was younger, Isaac pretended he was a professional pitcher as he threw the sticks. Every throw was perfect, of course.
And then he felt the first drop of rain hit his arm. When did it get so dark? Where did the clouds come from?
He clipped Toby’s leash back onto his collar and they hurried home. He returned Toby to Miss Marta. “I hope you had fun today,” she said.
“Lots of fun.”
The rain drops were falling closer together. Just as he reached his front porch, it started to pour. The rain was falling so hard that it was like trying to look through a waterfall.
Suddenly, the sandals were pinching his feet. Isaac took them off and went inside. He put them back in the closet. When he looked down again, his feet were their normal size.
Isaac unrolled his sleeves and pant legs with a sigh. Old again. Being young was fun while it lasted. Feeling nostalgic, he made himself a cup of cocoa and sat in the living room to watch the rain and wait for Charlie and Marianne to return home.
I walk several times a week with a walking group from my neighborhood. Unless I bring my kids along, I’m the youngest member of the group. It’s fun to be the youngest person in the group. It makes me feel a lot younger than I really am.
One thing I admire about the ladies I walk with is that they all volunteer some of their time in the community. Some of them volunteer in many different organizations. The are all enthusiastic about the work they do to help others.
I have heard it said that we become more like the people we spend our time with. So perhaps it’s not surprising that I volunteer in the community as well now that my children are all in school during the day. The ladies in my walking group are a wonderful source of advice and encouragement for my volunteer work.
This is good, because I need the help. Volunteering isn’t easy for me. To begin with, volunteering generally involves people. I generally find people a little stressful.
This is not because I don’t like people. Actually, I really like people. I just worry a lot about saying or doing the wrong thing and hurting people’s feelings or misleading them somehow or something. I worry that I’m talking too much or that someone is feeling left out. I feel anxious about people for lots of reasons.
Also, I don’t really have a lot of time. Part of this is due to me needing time to recover from dealing with people. But, I also have responsibilities to my self and church and family and things I want to learn and do. Fortunately, when I feel stretched too thin, I take a step or two back and do a little less. You can do that when you volunteer.
I find as I volunteer that there is always more to learn and do. Once I’ve figured something out, it often changes and I have to learn something new. It also seems like I’m constantly asked to do more things than I planned on doing.
With all of this, why volunteer? On Tuesday, someone thanked me for the work I’d done in organizing a successful writing event. “I know this is a lot of work,” he said.
“It’s worth it,” I said.
He looked skeptical. “Well, you’re young and enthusiastic still,” he finally said.
Youthful idealism isn’t the only reason I find value in my service. For one thing, I’m not really all that young, no matter what the ladies in my walking group say. (When I say this, I’m chided for making them feel old. But it’s true.)
I have learned a lot through volunteering. I have learned to send professional-sounding emails. I’ve learned to use computer programs that I’d never even heard of before. I’ve learned to speak in front of a group and feel moderately comfortable.
I’ve learned to connect with people. I’ve found confidence. Some confidence.
The funny thing about service is that it accelerates growth. When you’re doing something for someone else, or lots of someone elses, you can somehow stretch a little farther and try a little harder than you would have otherwise.
I truly believe that if there is something you want to learn, find a way to serve someone else as you learn it. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you learn.
In high school, I spent a lot of time helping my classmates understand the things we learned in class. I did the same in college. It really helped me understand and remember what we learned. I did well in school.
It also feels nice to help other people. It feels great to see people happy and smiling and to know that it’s partly due to something I did. It’s good to spend some time outside of the shadow of my usual worries and concerns. Service helps my problems seem smaller and lighter. It gives me perspective and hope.
And so for these and other reasons, like the ladies in my walking group, I volunteer. It isn’t easy, but I am happy about the service that I do. And I do feel like all the work is worth it. That’s why I do it.
Do you volunteer? What do you do? If you don’t have time now, where would you like to volunteer someday?
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