Thursday, February 26, 2009
Yesterday, almost without meaning to, I wrote about one of the heroes in my life.
That made me think about the role of heroes in my life.
I've had so many I couldn't tell you about them all. They range from my parents who spent their lives trying to help people (most of them left out people), to folks like the quiet gentle man in one of my churches who, not long before his death, I learned was the most decorated veteran in the county where I lived. You would have never known it. He was just a gentle man who greeted people at the church door and did all kinds of things to make the church work.
I will never forget the lady in the same county who saved cats, rescued them, took them to the vet, and then tried to find them homes. There was no animal shelter in that small county, only a dog catcher and almost certain death. She saved and found good homes for a lot of cats.
There's the man who dug the grave for our first dog without being asked, the wonderful prim little woman who used to always say, "You can't go to sleep tonight until you've learned something," and the good neighbors who, when my Dad died, let me go down home and then later brought my wife and son. My son wanted to go to his school Valentine party, and he got to do so.
So my life has been filled with heroes (some of them mental patients like the ones listed in the dedication to my book).
It's no wonder, then, that one night while I was still in the ministry, I had a dream where a distressed man said over and over again, "My name is Roy Rogers. That's who I am and who I will always be."
I hadn't thought of Roy Rogers for years. His last TV show was in the late 50's, 1957 if I remember correctly. I used to go to his movies in the late 40's and 50's, but I saw a lot of other western heroes too--Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, Lash La Rue. Why did I dream of Roy Rogers? I will never know. But when I went on to try to figure out why Roy could be a hero for my Roy Rogers, the reason was clear.
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were people who loved children. They did what they could to see that children, especially abused children, were protected and taken care of. Roy and Dale are heroes to me, not because of what they did on the screen, but because of what they were in real life.
They almost always ended their TV shows with some kind of moral for the children to hang on to. I've been watching DVDs of the TV shows again, and so I've become aware of that. But for me, that's not the point. They loved and cared for children. That's the point.
A while back I had a blog interview. Erica Orloff interviewed me about The Body in the Record Room. In her questions she asked about Roy Rogers. She commented that most people her age had no idea who Roy Rogers is except maybe to have seen a picture of him. It was more than fifty years ago when Roy and Dale's full time acting career was over. They still did a lot of things, mostly for my generation and older, I suspect. And their movies have become well accepted on Christian TV channels today.
But what about the people who don't watch the Christian TV channels (most people, I suspect)? How will they get to know Roy and Dale? A few thousand have gotten to know them through The Body in the Record Room.
That book wasn't written to capitalize on a famous name. If I had been going to do that, I suppose I would have chosen John Wayne. It was written about a hero and his wife who saved the life of my hero in the book, who actually made it possible for my Roy Rogers to live. And they did it, not because they were great movie stars. They did it because of who they (Roy and Dale) were in their own lives.
They were like all those people in my life--Lefty and Rose and Erliss and Guy and Don and Homer and so many others I can't name. They were people who changed other people's lives.
May we all be those kinds of heroes for someone we meet along the way.
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