Examples when repeated often become models. One can examine a model as a thing in and of itself. The advantages of knowing the living examples comes from seeing the way that it impacts and changes relationships. When there is good, the evidence tangible in the lives of the ones touched. When it is bad, the pain, anguish, and lingering hurt can be seen and often felt.
I watched model form in the way a colleague treated individuals in India. His example lingers, in good haunting kind of way. Regardless of economic standing, almost as if he was blind to status, power, or educational qualifications, he welcomes each into a conversation with a smile. The level of interest and caring in each story could be tangibly felt. His passion to know, understand, and experience was genuine. I could see it from the interactions that followed.
I watched him interact with the Catholic priest, wondering if the faith system they shared was the factor that made everything possible. I watched the example repeat when he met the local village priest on the beach. The stories that followed when he shared a lite meal with him in his home reinforced the interactions I had witnessed earlier. As the example repeated itself with fishermen, cleaners, new colleagues, and vendors, I could see a model emerging.
I have often wondered how to describe the model that continues to change how I see the world around me. David’s reminder is a good start; “Dignify those who are down on their luck; you’ll feel good – that’s what God does.” (Psalm 41.1) It is just a part of it. Yes, he felt good. So did everyone touched along the way – the person on the receiving side, those who were lucky enough to witness the interaction, and anyone hearing the stories that followed.
In the time that has passed, I wonder if he realized the difference he made in the lives of the people during those visits. A decade later I was talking with some of them – they still remembered and they still smiled.