Mother's Day in Green Mountain Falls. At church, the children's sermon served as a reminder that kids are almost never going to give the answers you think are obvious. The Pastor began this week's mini-message by asking, "Now, you guys know what today is, right?" His question was answered enthusiastically, the kids' voices in unison: "It's Sunday!" Only a second later did one little voice add, "Oh, Oh...and it's Happy Mother's Day, too."
The pastor moved on to ask the kiddos what it is that mothers are for, what sorts of things they do. One tiny girl, after an almost endless series of um's, told us quite plainly that moms exist to feed you and to clean your room. Another boy chimed in to mention that mothers are there to pay the bills so you have somewhere to live. (Seriously, what kid under 10 thinks of that? Let's hope he's not one of the ones who will be giving the same answer at age 30.) The pastor finally recieved his segway when a little girl said with great innocence, "Mom's are there to teach us how to be good and to believe in God." In the world of Mother's Day children's sermons, that answer is the equivalent of saying "Jesus" in Sunday School.
Despite the service holding some good laughs for me, the real highlight of this small town Sunday was the coffee hour afterward. Remember the old man who steals kids' lemonade? Well, this week I plopped down next to him at one of the plastic tables in the fellowship hall. We were both sipping coffee and dining on Mother's Day cake (yes, I finally got some cake) as he introduced himself and began to tell me stories, all the while offering his big, wrinkled smile and easy laugh.
Bill (or Mr. Bill, as the kids call him) has spent the last 21 years worth of mornings down at Ute Pass Elementary school, just to be there with the kids and help out around the school. "They just won't graduate me," he told me with a grin. Having originally come to Colorado because he was stationed at Fort Carson, Bill spent 25 years as the fire chief in Green Mountain Falls. He also spent many of those years as the director (and pretty much every other position) at a local boy's ranch, being a father to boys who needed one. He served as a Cub Scout leader for eons, whether for the boys at the ranch or for his own sons, a position which he said led to more ascents of Pike's Peak than anyone would really care for. On his first trip, he told me, he sat down for a rest not far from the top, only to be passed by a man in his 70's: "Next thing, I looked up and saw that the person blazing up after that old man was an old woman! I said to myself, 'Bill, you'd better get off your bottom and get to the top of this thing.'"
As I sat there eating my cake (he said he was eating his piece in honor of his mom), I just felt blessed to be able to talk with a man whose many long years are brimming with so much life, so many stories. Though he is a widower with an aging body, Bill is full of more joy and vitalty than most of my 20-something peers. He is a treasure.
I may never run into him on Pike's Peak, but the scenario seems familiar all the same: Bill is that old man who passes by with enthusiasm and vigor, and leaves you thinking, "Man, I'd better get off my bottom and start living some good stories to tell."