When I was a child, I wanted to be the Queen of England. I lived there and knew that she was important and in charge. When we returned to the States, my goal changed to being President of the United States, because he was the important person in charge.
It was my goal to be in charge. Not because I wanted a bunch of people serving my every whim (although if I'd thought about it much, I'd have liked that part), but rather because I figured no one could make someone in charge eat lima beans or meat with fat on it And there'd definitely be no bed time for me. I could read for as long as I wanted.
I was too little to know that I'd have to have married Prince Charles to achieve the former, or run for office to achieve the latter. And now that I'm an adult, neither is an appealing thought. Further, I can cut the fat off of any meat I eat and not a single lima bean has passed my lips since I left home 26 years ago.
The fact that my childhood dreams didn't come true is fine, partially because becoming a Christian vastly changed my perspective. I was reading Christianity Today magazine, catching upon back issues today, and in one of the articles there was a quote from Middlemarch, where George Eliot reminds us of what we owe "to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."
Years ago, that would have bothered me, but now it doesn't. Now it seems to me to be an admirable goal.
As I waved good-bye a couple of months ago to a lovely woman who's graced my life, and the lives of those in our parish over the last few years, I was struck by how God works through these hidden lives. He sent her to us, enriched our lives, and then moved her along west to grace the lives of folks unmet in Washington.
She brought depth and joy to our bible study on Monday morning. She ran a beautiful VBS for our kids, some of whom didn't know Christ and were meeting Him for the first time. She made a difference, seeding and watering. And she'll continue that work elsewhere and will fade from the memories of some of our littlest ones here, just as the many women who seeded and watered before all of us have faded from the memories of the little ones they've served and then moved on from.
And what matters is not whether anyone knows or doesn't what we've done in our lives, because we'll be forgotten by men (unless, God forbid, we do something truly awful). But we'll have had the joy of being part of the lives of the saints of God. Whether someone visits our graves or not.
And so my adult dream, I suppose, is to live a faithful, hidden life. I want to serve and be served by those I'm with here and now; living, working, and worshiping together.