Director’s Blog: On raising children
Beauty comes from some of the most unexpected places. This plant has grown out of a small crack in the concrete. We don’t have to water or fertilize it, it just grows.
In the meantime for the past year we have been trying to grow the same plant in a flowerbed with little success. No matter what we do it doesn’t seem to want to grow…
In another flower bed there are a number of plants, of the same species, doing fairly well but not as good as the one in the concrete. Here we water, work the soil, and prune. The plants here respond to the care, unlike the others. For a person without a green thumb this is very confusing.
Back to the plant in the concrete, what you don’t see in the photo is the water shutoff for our laundry room right behind the plant. This means there is a water line under the concrete right where the plant is growing. My guess is that there is a small drip in one of the joints or condensation that provides enough constant moisture for the plant to flourish. This must be the reason for its success.
If it were not for the plumber who installed the water line before the concrete and seed landed, this plant would not be. I am sure many seeds have fallen in many similar places but it was the water line that has caused the plant to become what it is today.
This same can be said about children.
You cannot go by what you see. We never know what is really going on below the surface. We cannot predict what the results will be of the love, care, and education we provide for children. All we know is that we should never prejudge a child. We should never say, “This one will never amount to anything.” We should not discriminate against those who are different from the majority.
Children with disabilities must never be written off. We should not judge based on social or economic status. We can never tell when or where we will find one of these children blossoming into great individuals.
There are many children who have everything provided for them yet they fail to meet their potential. Others respond to the love, care, and education offered them, they take it and apply it. These children grow to be solid contributing members of their communities. Then once and while you meet one who despite what others thought of him or her, rises to the top.
Something below the surface, something no one ever saw, began working in his or her life.
These children grow into leaders, not ordinary leaders but outstanding leaders. They lead with integrity, compassion, and wisdom. They go into their world and make a difference.
So children are no different than the plants in my yard. You never know where or when one will flourish. You can never predict the outcome when raising them.
I like how Chrysostom, one of the early church fathers, uses the metaphor of the child as a work of art formed by the artist (that is, the parents). He says:
“They are like an artist, they are to remove all superfluous material and add everything that is lacking.”
He also said,
“To each of you fathers and mothers I say, just as we see artists fashioning their paintings and statues with great precision, so we must care for these wondrous statues of ours. Painters when they have set the canvas on the easel paint on it day by day to accomplish their purpose. Sculptors, too, working in marble, proceed in a similar manner; they remove what is superfluous and add what is lacking. Even so must you proceed. Like the creators of statues do you give all your leisure to fashioning these wondrous statues of God. And, as you remove what is superfluous and add what is lacking, inspect them day by day, to see what good qualities nature has supplied so that you will increase them, and what faults so that you will eradicate them.”
Not all pieces of granite became a Michelangelo’s David, not all canvases and paint became Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa but all became art of one form or another.
At Village of Hope we do not discriminate against those who society has rejected. We teach our staff not to prejudge children based on their ethnic backgrounds, tribes, or social status. We give equal care to all and accept them for who they are. Most grow and accept the care and are thankful for it. Some reject it, but those numbers are few. But sometimes in the most unexpected places an amazing work of art appears, just like the plant that appeared out of a crack in the concrete.