When I was about 12 years old, I loved to fly kites with neighborhood kids. One day as we were piloting our kites on a vacant lot, a well dressed young boy walked up to me and asked if he could join us. He had a brand new kite and a ball of clean white string. I had never seen him before. “Sure,” I said,” need any help?” He nodded yes. In a few minutes the new boy’s kite was up with the rest of ours. I looked over at him and saw a grin from ear to ear.
Suddenly though, his kite began to loop-de-loop. The boy froze, and his kite started looping faster, usually a fatal sign. But this was worse, because his was headed for the power lines. Several of us yelled, “Move back…pull it back!” Then we all watched it crash onto the top of the power lines. The little boy was horrified. He pulled on the string, but his kite had one of its corners caught under one of the wires, and it wouldn’t budge. He dropped his string and turned to me with tears streaming down his face.
“Let me see what I can do,” I said, realizing that this was basically hopeless. I wondered if I could walk my kite over to his, pull my kite down some, and maybe nudge his just a bit. I walked my kite slowly closer to his. I tried several times to lightly hit his kite, but each time, I would either hit the wires or miss everything. Then in one final attempt my kite got stuck with his on top of the power lines. Looked like a two-kite fatality. I had learned to never pull a tangled kite hard because that just makes it worse. So, I stood there in silence and waited – trying to figure out what to do. Then, a puff of wind gushed – and to my amazement it lifted my kite straight up and above the power lines. And, even more amazing, it nudged the boy’s kite free. Cheers went up from all of us as we watched it drift to the ground.
The young boy ran over to his kite, picked it up and ran back to me, carrying it and an even a wider grin. When he got to me, I was ready to tell him, “You’re welcome.” But when he got there, I saw the look in his eyes. It was powerful and engaging, and I don’t remember him saying any words at all. His eyes beamed an outpouring glow of gratitude and appreciation that I wasn’t prepared for. Then the little boy was gone. I never saw him again. Maybe he was from out of town visiting an uncle or someone near.
Over the years, I kept seeing that look in his eyes. I believe that’s why I never forgot meeting him. His eyes haunted me off and on. Later as a father I would glimpse a similar look in my children’s eyes; and throughout my career I would recognize it again and again in the eyes of some I had assisted in their work. I have always wondered who was really stirring in the wind that kite day and looking through that boy’s eyes at me – leaving me with a life-lingering Biblical message. “Find ways you can help others, and I will be there too.”
By C. Page Highfill