From time to time we meet folks whose life mission, it seems, is to simply be kind. I met a kindness missionary recently and have been mulling over his impact on the community of folks I was connecting with.
It was a conference setting where I met Jack. From the moment I saw him I was curious. Not knowing he was going to address the group, I simply saw him as one of the folks in the small sea of faces who had paid their money to show up at a nice resort and learn.
The conference was on the smaller scale size with about 60-70 folks. People from across the country coming in, galvanized around the two founders of the organization who were launching their company. None of us were really sure all of what the conference would entail but we all knew one of the two founders or came with someone who did.
Jack was older than most of the group, had longish white hair and a full manicured beard. I wondered if he was the father of one of the attendees or maybe a monk. Many of us attending come from the banking world and, well, Jack didn’t look like the banker-type. I distinctly remember wondering what his story was. It didn’t take long to begin to hear it unfold.
The founder and CEO, Steve, introduced Jack as our first speaker. “This man has been my mentor for 10 years” Steve told us and went on to attempt to tone down his deep regard and admiration for the man so as to not embarrass him.
A unique thing happened to the group the moment Jack began to speak – we all ended up bathed with his life. Jacks words were elegant, tasteful in their simplicity and perfectly portioned giving each point time to digest. They were interspersed with margin and time, seasoned with grace and served with comfort and ease.
His talk lasted less than an hour but lingered longer than the entire 3-day conference. I suppose it’s because he shared who he is and pieces of his story in a way that made me believe that there was hope. For 3 days, Jack was the most sought out guy in the conference simply because he was kind and connect-able. He listened to you because he was genuinely interested in you.
Jack possesses the secret sauce in this life. He is wise and he is kind. He is anoticer and a listener. He moves at the pace of the one who is talking and the one who is listening.
I watched him interact with folks all weekend. Some of them I knew and most I did not. But there was never a conversation happening quickly. The discussions were always close up, leaning in, listening intently.
I will most probably go visit Jack again one day. I will want him to tell me more about his life, about his 2 daughters and his 7 grandkids, about his wife and about his admiration for Mister Rogers!
I will tell him that his life and his story, the interface of him being at the conference with me and the rest of the group, was like much needed water to dry and thirsty souls. I will tell him, yet again, thank you.
My wife has a few watering cans around the house. She uses them to water the delicate flowers we keep potted around the place in the summer. The water comes out slowly and evenly. The can requires constant re-filling and it takes time to get around to all the plants. But she waters with the can and not the hose because, well, the watering can gives her time to enjoy the flowers and water them properly.
Jack is a watering can. He is someone who sprinkles life on to those that are around him. He is someone that takes time and is intentional. Nothing is forced or expected.
Jack shows up, and in doing so he takes his time to water those around him just right, because he loves and he believes, and can wait patiently for the beauty to grow.
I firmly believe that everyone needs someone in their life who can fill them, who can water the soil of their life when things are dry and cracking. I encourage you to take time this week to think about the people in your life who fill you up. Have they heard from you lately? If not – how about scheduling some time to let them know. Heck – forward this to them and let them know it reminded you of them. As you do this, please feel free to share with me. These stories truly encourage.
Who is your watering can friend?