Tuesday, June 5, 2012

No Greater Love

I started working at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park this spring. Having been born and raised on a farm, knowledgeable about spinning and weaving, and being passionate about living history it seemed the perfect fit for me. I thought it might allow me an opportunity to fulfill my desire to preserve a little of our farming heritage that is rapidly disappearing from today’s society by teaching others.

I also thought it would be a good learning experience for me; Conner Prairie is home to many rare breeds that I would not otherwise have the opportunity to work with, as I can’t exactly just walk out and pick up a pair of oxen or working steers at my local farm auction. Even if I could, I wouldn’t know how to work them.  I used that excuse to easily justify my one hour commute to and from work.

The Animal Encounters barn is set up as a nursery of sorts where guests can interact with baby animals and their mothers up close and personal. It is our job as animal specialists to help facilitate that encounter and provide the guests with knowledge about the animals and their different breeds. Our goal is always to make a meaningful connection with our guests, that’s why most of us work there, we love to watch what we call the “ah-ha” moments. However, on the really busy school field-trip days,  it is sometimes difficult as the human kids are in and out of the building so quickly it is hard to have much of a conversation. We figure if we get a few sentences out while they are petting and walking at the same time, they are at least learning something. We estimate we talk to about eight kids a minute.

It was on one of those days last week that I was standing next to our Shorthorn heifer calf when a developmentally disabled young man calmly approached me. He knelt with me next to her as I explained that she was a calf. While all the chaos continued to swirl around us, he slowly outstretched the most gentle hands I’ve ever witnessed. He cupped her face, drawing his cheek to her forehead, as he did so he softly whispered, “I love you calf.”

I wept.

I wept, because I immediately realized that I had just witnessed the purest form of love known to man.

He couldn’t have touched my heart any more if he had reached his hand right inside my chest.  It was beautiful. It was powerful. It was beyond words.

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As you can imagine, since Conner Prairie is a non-profit organization, the salary for this position isn’t exactly stellar. I joke that with the price of gasoline this summer, I’m hovering somewhere above breaking even. After an experience like that though, it became clear that I’ll have to work there until a ripe old age to repay them for allowing me the opportunity to do this job.

20 comments:

Sheila said...

Thank you for sharing!

Florida Farm Girl said...

Who says he's developmentally disabled? Seems to me he's more in touch with reality than most of the other kids who swept through that day. Bless you for being there to help him in that moment, and Bless you for understanding its importance.

Milah said...

I'm happy for you. :)

Melissa said...

Is this the same group that had me weeping too? If so, I'd say they did well that day.

Christine said...

No, another group while you girls were out sheep shopping.

Karen said...

Christine -- tears to my eyes... and a gentle reminder of what is important is this crazy world that most of us "choose" to live in. Thank you for sharing, caring and giving.

Hugs,
Karen

Nancy K. said...

Beautiful!

Michelle said...

How wonderful - for you, him and the calf!

Miss Effie said...

Fantastic .... absolutely a beautiful story.

I'm gonna tell Mom! said...

Thank you for sharing this. I needed this right now.
kim

Prairie Patch Quilts said...

Beautiful story. It touched my heart. So happy for you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing, I wept too.
Hanny.

Cynthia Arneson said...

I love your blog, you share your heart w/ us. I cried as I read this entry, I read it twice, so you know I cried twice. Thank you for sharing.

Mariel said...

Oh my goodness! I am crying. What a sweet story. The most innocent things in life are the greatest!

Elaine said...

What a poignant moment. Tears all around. Thanks for sharing this.

Kris said...

Wow. I sure needed to read this just now. Wow. That was an awesome encounter with an awesome young man. Just beautiful.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

"Volunteering" is often the best paid job of all.

Kim Fortune said...

I remember that group. I was working at the Golden eagle Inn that day. As I was walking back from lunch a girl from that group ran full blast toward me like I was a long lost friend, threw her arms around me and gave me a hug. I had never met her but she instantly became my "long lost friend."

Later that day I played ring toss with several another members of that group. He put his arm around me and said to me, "you are nice."

Christine, you learned that day that the pay at Conner Prairie is much greater than other jobs. It just doesn't always come in the form of cash.

Welcome to CP. There are many more similar experiences awaiting you. K

The Barn Door said...

14 Wow....what a wonderful moment in time!

Becky Caudill said...

What a beautiful moment.