Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Lollipop Man

We are in the church basement, picking up Ethan from the nursery as we do every Sunday. As soon as I take his coloring paper and we head back to the stairs, Ethan's eyes light up.

"Is he here this week?" he asks.

We all stomp up the stairs to the foyer. We all go searching for the Lollipop Man.

I don't know when the tradition started. I'm going to say sometime back in the late winter or spring. I don't even know who the Lollipop Man is. Our church is big, with three services. We go to the second one, and in the past I don't remember seeing this wizened old man, always in a tan blazer, who stands in the lobby as everyone is pouring out of the service and readying to leave, and hands out little lollipops to any child who wants one.

The lobby is as usual filled with people, but right away I spot him.

"Ethan, there he is!" My boy walks up to him, shyly, but smiling at him straight on. Anna is right behind. The man is bent over with age. He has a kind face. He is everyone's grandpa. I wonder if he has grandkids (or even great-grandchilden) of his own, and if they live far away, and if he misses them.

Both kids reach out for their treat, this little sweetness in the morning.

"Thank you," I tell him, as I always do, and as always, he just nods.

Back in the car, the kids' mouths full, Dan asks, "Did you see the hat he was holding in his hand?"

I hadn't.

"He's a World War 2 veteran. U.S. marines."

I think about that, as we drive home. I think that there are many other things I could thank this man for.

I think about what it would be like to be one day fighting for the security of the world. And another day to wake up a much older, much slower man, candy in those same hands, smiling at the little ones.

I am reminded once again that there are different ways to be a hero, and different ways to serve.

Our lives are seasons. At one point we may be on the front lines, doing our part to change the world. Other times, our mission may shift. Maybe we impact lives one person at a time.

The deeds may be smaller, but no less important. There are many ways to touch the world; to show God's light. Maybe it's being a friend or bringing a meal. Maybe it's writing a card. Maybe it's caregiving for one who is sick, or caring for your children, day in and day out.

Maybe it's bringing a burst of joy to little people, like the man with the lollipops.

Years ago, this man was a hero. My children know him as a hero of another kind. I see him as a reminder to never despise where I am right now.

There is always a way to touch my world.