I just read a letter that is displayed in the museum in New York that pays tribute both to those that served and those that lost their lives on September 11, 2001. In the letter, a lady describes a police officer “literally picking her up off the sidewalk” during the mayhem near the World Trade Center. She said he “lifted her off the ground.” And then he told her to run with him to safety. When she thought she could no longer run, he assured her that he “would carry her, if necessary.”
As I reflect on the image of that officer coming to her rescue when she was desperate, I see a lot of symbolism in his heroic act. There are times when friends and strangers alike need someone to “pick them up.” And then are also times when those closest to need us to run with them. And finally, there are moments when we need to pick up our friends and carry them.
I have been picked up before. I have been picked up when I could have been trampled by the challenges of life. When I was a confused 18 year old starting my undergraduate studies, my employer picked me up and ran with me. He gave me confidence and reassurance. And in his own way, he communicated that he would carry me if I fell.
I have had people run with me. No one has had better mentors in the chosen profession that I have had. No one. I have been blessed. My mentors have run the professional course with me even when things were heated and unpleasant.
And I have had people carry me when I could no longer go another inch. You don’t ever forget such individuals, even though those are not the kinds of life experiences that you are eager to share with everyone. As I picture that New York officer reassuring the lady in the gray dress and yellow sweater on that fateful September morning, I am particularly grateful for those that have carried me over the years. Most of you probably don’t even know who you are, but I do…And I am thankful.
Tomorrow I am going to get up and be more mindful of those that have fallen. I need to be alert, so I can eagerly pick them up. There will be people I can run with. I will try to stay in good emotional condition, so I can run a marathon if needed. And then there might even be someone I need to carry. I will keep the image of the New York officer in my mind as I pick that person up ever so gently.