Mind Matters

by Rev. Robert H. Tucker

Number 255
August 4, 1997

A Michael Jordan Friend


I read that Michael Jordan, as a sophomore in high school, didn't make the varsity basketball team. What opened his future was a coach who went out of his way by saying, "Meet me at 7:00 every morning for practice and you'll be on next year's team."

This led me to reflect on my own life. As essential as parents were, I know other, non-family adults whose affirmation and encouragement enabled me to move along paths in my life that could in no way have been predicted from my past. Toward them, I have much gratitude.

I have asked others about the influence of non-family members in their lives, and each person has quickly responded with names and specific remembrances. Those helping have varied: teachers and ministers, bosses and coaches, friends of parents and friends' parents. In each case, the other person treated them as a 'real' human being and not as a child.

Not every contact, not every relationship is remembered and treasured, but others' interest in us has helped to shape each of our lives. Periodically, someone will tell me how a conversation, a sermon, or a trip--ordinary noneventful events as far as I was concerned--are sharply remembered.

As a parent I recall with appreciation those adults who spent time with my children. I especially remember one who allowed our youngest to sit with him during worship while both my wife and I were working. This member (now deceased) knew my son's name and treated him simply as a fellow human being, conversing person-to-person. I appreciated his help. Even more, I treasured the friendship that developed.

Secret Friends is a way we have initiated those connections. It needs to be extended so that each one of our children in the church community has at least one non-parent adult who can greet that child by name and be able to say, "How are you today?" Perhaps even a "Happy Birthday" might come forth. Perhaps even a present or a postcard while on a trip.

Linkages between generations are important, especially in a society where so many live far from family. Make it a point to be part of that linkage at First Congregational. Like Michael Jordan's coach, you, too can be part of someone's treasured memory.

--Robert H. Tucker
4 August 1997

© Robert H. Tucker, 1997.
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