“You guys, wait. My sister will worry.”
The words slipped out of his little mouth and floated up into the fresh air on the greenbelt trails.
I knew immediately what was going on.
Some of the local children use the trails to walk to school. The very young ones are supervised by mothers or fathers or – more often than you might think – older siblings. The greenbelt has curves. Children skipping ahead on foot (or pedaling on bikes) can slip out of their protector’s sight when they round a bend. This little guy was aware he had slipped out of sister’s view.
He was calling to two friends farther down the trail. I cast a glance backwards over my shoulder, and yes, there was big sister, ambling along.
The look on the boy’s face, as I ran by him, was earnest, his little brow puckered. He had stopped walking, remaining still just where he was.
But it was his choice of words that had arrested my attention.
“You guys, wait. My sister will be mad.”
“You guys, wait. My sister will tell my mom.”
“My sister will worry.”
Who had done it, I wondered. Who taught him to care that he might worry sister? Was it mother who had reached him? Or father? Or maybe sister herself?
Rules can be easily taught. Caring…that’s trickier. Looking at the boy’s expression, I could see it wasn’t fear of punishment that drove him, it was caring. It was love.
The friends stopped and waited, and that made me smile. (They don’t always stop, you know.) All three boys waited for sister to come closer before they began moving forward again.
It occurred to me, with regret, that mother (or father) would never know about this moment. This moment when their hard work bore fruit. But maybe that’s okay. What matters is that it happened.
So if you’re wondering today if what you do matters, if you wonder if it’s making a difference, let me tell you something.
Even if you aren’t there to see it.
Carry on, my friends.
The most beautiful music of all is the music of what happens.