Today, 100 years ago, my father, Lewis Alvin Barley was born. It’s been twenty years since he died and I have not gone a single week without dreaming about him and hardly a day without missing him. Is this unusual? He was my hero as a child and my best friend and mentor as an adult.
The man never failed to believe in me and my vision of creating a “holy haven” for youth, and he was proud of me—-I knew this! He was proud of me. The man knew the best about me and the worst and he was still proud of me. When he passed away a light was extinguished in my life that cannot be replaced.
If I were given five minutes more with him I would take him to Bob Evans (his favorite place) for another cup of coffee and just enjoy “being" with him. We would not have to talk—it would be enough to be with him. Even as I write this little note my heart is breaking. I would give anything I have just for five more minutes with my dad.
As I have grown older I realize that one of the things God has graciously placed within my soul is the desire to pass on my father’s approval to another. I have not fully measured up to his ability to “build up” and encourage, nor do I have one in my life to be a hero to as my father was to me. But perhaps not having “one” pushes me to be a hero to many. And no, I don’t see myself as a proper example or as being an ideal man or a person of profound intellect or gifts, but nonetheless, I believe that He can use my passion and convictions to be a partial inspiration to other young men and women. There is unspeakable joy and fulfillment in knowing that you have helped someone become a better young person.
I remind staff that “little eyes are watching and little ears are listening” to us whether we know it or not. Someone might secretly see us as his/her hero, and God have mercy on us if we cause one of the little ones to stumble. My father taught me not only to not stumble but also how to run the race……