One of the differences separating an adult from a child is experience: the adult, being older, has accumulated more experience at living than the child.
That's not exactly news, I know, but every once in a while a story comes along like this one out of Detroit, reminding me that with age comes a shift in perspective, and if we're not careful we can lose as much as we gain from that change.
This magnificient child is only 7 years old, yet she's able to display a heartfelt appreciation for the treasured blessings filling her world, her sense of gratitude inspiring this remarkable young lady to exemplify a value for life itself that tends to take us older folks far too many years of learning from experience to acquire on our own.
The old seem forever at odds with the young. There's a natural conflict built into this natural relationship, the conservatism of the old clashing with the rebelliousness of youth. The inexperienced young, in their vanity, can too easily foresake the value of experience itself: "You don't know what it's like", the young will swear to their elders, "you're too old, things are different now".
The old, in their vanity, respond in turn, "What do you know, you're too young". Facing each other across their opposite ends of this chasm, both sides shout in chorus the same accusation: "What do I have to learn from you??"
Hidden within this generational conflict is the simple truth that for either to change, there must be a challenge to their ideas. Through this natural conflict, each generation helps the other, the young testing the old to define in sufficient clarity the ongoing usefulness of the wisdom derived from their experiences, the old testing the young by serving up time-tested standards and expectations for them to reach in their turn.
This Detroit story of heroism in the midst of horror can remind us all to humble ourselves sufficiently so that we can be in a position to learn from anyone, even seven-year old teachers like the remarkable Alexis Goggins.
Seliethia Parker always saw her role as protector for her 7-year-old daughter, Alexis Goggins. But it was Alexis who ended up saving her mother's life by using her little body to shield her mom from a fusillade of bullets.
Doctors told Parker that her heroic little daughter, who was shot six times, would never walk or talk again.
But Alexis has surprised people with her gritty toughness. She's not only walking and talking, she's expected to have a full recovery.
"Everybody's still kind of shocked. This is progressing a little bit more than everybody expected," Parker said on "Good Morning America" today. "They said she should fully recover." Alexis was shot last December when she and her mother were about to get into a car driven by Parker's female friend. Parker's former boyfriend, 29-year-old Calvin Tillie, jumped out of nearby bushes and forced his way into the car.
Parker pleaded desperately with Tillie not to harm her or her daughter, but to no avail.
"Me and Alexis was left in the car with him at gunpoint and he starting shooting," Parker told GMA. Fearing for her mother's life, Alexis bolted into the car's front seat, crying out, "Don't hurt my mother."
"Alexis jumped over the seat to try and save my life," Parker said.
Using her tiny body as a shield, Alexis blocked six gunshots from hitting her mother. The bullets pierced her right eye, chin, cheek, chest and jaw. When police arrived to the scene, they found Alexis in a pool of blood, curled beneath the steering wheel.
Alexis said she doesn't consider herself a hero and said she wasn't scared during the event.
"I saved my mom," she said and added she loved her mother a lot and didn't want to see her get hurt.
Parker has endless gratitude for her selfless daughter.
"She's my angel and I love her to death," she said.
Is there any real love without gratitude? Is there ever any true growth without humility? Can there ever be a student, without a teacher? These are all opposites, yet they are still connected, still dependant one upon the other.
To deny ourselves the one, is to limit ourselves with the other.
Alexis is a pretty good teacher, and there seems to be quite a few students around the world learning from her lesson... not the least of which is her own teacher: her mother.
Since the attack, Alexis and her family have received more than 200 letters from well-wishers, some from as far away as London. Supporters have also contributed $30,000 to a fund set up for Alexis through her school.
Parker says her daughter is a living miracle.
"I'm thanking God every day that me and my baby are still here," she said. "It has taught me to ... appreciate the smaller things in life."
[Hat Tip to I See A Light, A Bright Light ]