Jen is an old friend. She currently is a Social Services Administrator for a non profit agency for children and their families.
On her wall about her desk, a tapestry has the words, “Horizon.” I asked her what that meant.
Jen spoke a little about her background. “I spent two years in the Peace Corps, and that changed my life. Because I spoke a little Spanish, I was sent to the slums of Costa Rica. “My job was to organize the children throughout the streets, get them into our makeshift shelter, and offer them food, shelter, showers and clothes.”
“But I didn’t come here for structural change. I honestly wanted to make a little difference. Specifically, I wanted to give them vision of what could be.”
“Well, one day, later in the afternoon, the children were leaving school, when the Coordinator of the Costa Rican Scholastic Effort, the program that sponsored my trip, asked if he could speak to me. He interviewed me, and asked me about what I wanted for the kids.”
“He said, “Jen, you’ve spoken to me about your vision. Look at these kids. They know, at least the older ones, that when you leave, many of them are going to be dealing with the same conditions that they left. They know that you offer a respite. And, they hope that others will come again, and bigger programs will take hold, maybe changes in our governmental policies.”
“But their hope is transient. They have no vision of tomorrow.”
“Therefore,” he said, “I want to suggest you do something to give them a little more hope.”
“He said, “Jen, let this be their vision.” and pointed to the horizon. The sun was beginning to set, and I asked him what he meant.”
“You see the horizon. Teach these kids that their future is “on the horizon” That every step closer is a step closer to the goal. One thing today, one thing tomorrow. That is the process. Teach them to move one step toward to their goal so when the sun goes down again, they will go to sleep with knowing they've taken one step closer to their future.”
“The need that horizon, Jen. They need to look up. To have hope. They need your vision."
“My life changed after that. From that point forward, I wanted to get to know the kids. I took many of them aside, and asked them what they liked, what they wanted to be, that kind of thing.”
“And to a child, their hopes and dreams were like every other kid. Some wanted to be a doctor, some a teacher, some wanted to work on cars.”
"I had them focus on their goals, and to keep their focus on the daily steps that kept them closer to their lives “beyond the horizon.”
“Which, I should say,” she added, “I literally did. Every Saturday night, I took a group of those kids up to a hill about a quarter mile outside of the camp. Together, we would watch the sunset, focus on that horizon, and talk about their dreams. “Bring that horizon to you,” I’d say, “Know the life that lives out there, take that daily step, and all your goals and dreams will come true.” We would talk about all their dreams and put together images in the sky of what their goals would be when all of them were met.”
Jen opened a drawer. “I’ve been away from Costa Rica for about eighteen years now. And about a year ago, I got a package. In it was that tapestry you see on the wall. And with the package was a letter from Juan Miquel Cruz, one of the boys I took up to that hill. Let me read this for you:
“Dear Miss Jen, I wanted to tell you that I am now the Director of Civic Services in Costa Rica. I just completed medical school and specialize in childhood disorders. We here will never forget your kindness. Every weekend I take children up to that hill and let them know what they can be. We put their images in the sky, just like you did with us.”
“I wanted you to know that I kept my eyes on the horizon, and my goals were met. God Bless You, Juan Cruz, M.D.”
Jen wiped the tears from her eyes. “So, I keep my eyes on the horizon. I keep my goals in my head and the horizon in my heart.”