One grandfather quipped about his grandchildren: "My grandkids are four and six. The Pulitzer Prize winner is four and the brain surgeon is six."
Parents and grandparents are understandably
proud of the quick minds and impressive talents of their little ones. But let
me tell you about another quality, perhaps even more important. A grandmother
wrote to me and told me this story about her four-year-old granddaughter
It was Christmastime. Skylar had saved coins in
a piggy bank all year and decided to buy presents for her family with her
savings. But she also learned from announcements on television about a local
homeless shelter called "The Road House." She repeatedly asked her
mother what "homeless" meant and why those children needed coats and
warm clothes. The concept of people in such physical need deeply affected her.
Skylar’s mother took her to the store to buy
Christmas presents. But instead of buying for herself or her family, she
decided to use her savings for somebody at the shelter. They learned that there
was a little girl staying there about Skylar’s age, and she purchased a warm
coat, socks, gloves and crayons for the child. She also wanted to buy her a
doll (a "baby," as she called it), but when she discovered she didn't
have enough money, she left the doll behind. When Skylar got home, she selected
one of her own much-loved dolls to give away. The baby went into a box with the
She could hardly wait for Christmas. Skylar was
not thinking about Santa Claus or any presents she might be getting. She was
thinking only about going to the shelter and giving her carefully selected
gifts to a little girl she had never met.
On Christmas Eve she and her family finally
made the trip Skylar had been anticipating for so long. They drove to the
shelter. There she presented her Christmas box to a grateful child. She was so
filled with joy at truly touching someone else’s life that her family decided
to make the journey to the shelter an annual tradition.
"Perhaps it's good to have a beautiful
mind, but an even greater gift is to have a beautiful heart," says Nobel
Laureate John Nash ("A Beautiful Mind"). He would have appreciated
young Skylar’s heart.
Beautiful hearts don’t just happen. Nash calls
it a gift, but it’s a gift in the way that faith or hope or love are gifts. And
I’m convinced we have each been endowed with a beautiful heart. We may not
always see it. We may not even believe it. But it’s a gift that came with birth
and, every time we act selflessly, it grows a little.
– Steve Goodier (Life Support System)