For school, I have to write an 18-20 page paper on my spiritual heritage. Here is the tongue-in-cheek title given as an example: “The Ways My Personality Style and The People and Experiences in My Life Have Been Instrumental in Shaping My Adult Personality and in Preparing Me to Use My Gifts for Pastoral and Spiritual Care of Other Persons.”
Actually, everybody ought to do this. It’s quite a revelation.
I’m eleven pages into this project, and seeing things I’d never seen before about the people who have helped me along the way. I’m seeing the ordinary people in my life in a whole new light as I focus on how they have shaped my personality and prepared me to be the person I am today. Of course there are the parents, and the siblings, the occasional teacher who gave me a little extra encouragement. Everyone has those. Everyone has trauma, too, that pushes them one way or another, to choose one thing over another.
But in digging through the detritus of my history (most of it compost at this point, and not all that pleasant to rummage through), I see lots of little seeds that were scattered by mere passers-by. People whose faces I don’t remember, whose names escape me, but whose words of encouragement, advice, and wisdom remain.
The Johnny Appleseeds of my spiritual heritage.
They are legion.
And I am incredibly grateful. Those tiny comments in the aggregate have meant a great deal, have all worked to make me a good person today. Reviewing my life from this perspective makes me want to drop those little hints of encouragement to everybody.
We all want to make a difference in the world. I’m coming to believe that all we have to do is make a tiny bit of difference every day. Those who can make big differences all at once, are gifted in the extreme. But the little things add up.
It’s giving back, it’s paying forward, it’s bearing spiritual fruit.
It’s what we are here to do.