One of Elliot's goals for his service project to "help the homeless, one ninja at a time" was to raise enough funds to bring at least one homeless person away from the street and into a safe, permanent home. It was an enormous, almost impossible goal for a child of seven. I attempted to explain the concept of how much money that would take, not to discourage him from trying, but to provide a realistic perspective. At age seven, Elliot thought that maybe one hundred dollars could buy someone a house. His response was to use the first thirty dollars to purchase a tent.
Perhaps this is cliche', but with God, all things are possible. ALL things.
Five months after opening up Elliot's Ninja Art he has achieved and gone beyond that goal. It turns out that it wasn't necessary for him to actually earn thousands of dollars, but to raise awareness in our community.
Six homeless families are now preparing to move into six apartments. It didn't happen as a result of the television news broadcast and Elliot's interview, or the newspaper article in the Greensboro Voice. One day we acted on the suggestion of Elliot's Taekwondo master to make a flyer. We made several copies, and Richard took one to work.
Two weeks ago, I received an unexpected phone call from a gentleman at Richard's workplace who wanted to order a custom painting. Our conversation, catching me by surprise, was brief. Later, Richard came home and explained that this man was very interested in Elliot's mission, and also requested contact information for people we have met along the way who work to provide services and shelter to people experiencing homelessness.
This week, we learned that this man is the owner of an apartment complex with six vacancies that he is willing to open up for families on the street.
We are continually humbled and awestruck by the events that have been unfolding through Elliot's project. I once believed that in order to be successful, one had to land a respectable career, work hard, and continually earn more money to establish financial security. I didn't expect that in order to be successful, one could simply encourage and support the blossoming of a child's beautiful idea.
The one thing that helped me to avoid my imagined and long hoped-for professional life was the thought that I would have to make lots of childcare arrangements and hire help to keep up the house. I'm learning to let go of that artificial and idealistic image, and accept that I am where I am right now for a very important reason. I remind myself that I want to be here in my second hand clothing, with no important, demanding, exhausting, stressful job to do. Even if some days at home can be just like that.
Time keeps moving along and hopefully I move and grow with it. Last night while lying awake in the middle of the night, I realized that I have a habit of believing that life as it appears now, will stay the same. A memory of Emily and I playing basketball in the dark on a clear fall night came into my head. While we shared the magic of how the night sky can release one from inhibitions, from constant tasking, from the assumed roles we take on during the day, the kid in me came out to play. I didn't mentally forecast her move up north. I thought we would always have time to shoot some hoops under the stars.
And now, I keep thinking that it will be like this forever, Elliot and I doing "school" in the mornings. His handwriting forever the same. His pencil dropping habit. His lack of focus on things he really doesn't like to do. I forget to forecast that one day, he'll be signing his name in a flash, grabbing the car keys and heading out the door. My prayer is this: please let him take what he's learning now about impossible dreams and God be a seed firmly planted. Let it be a perennial or an evergreen. Let this miracle of six families be a reference point for constructing big dreams in the face of so much reality.