I was floored the first time I experienced it. Excited to finally be able to touch something in the museum, I hurried up onto the Floor. (*Spoiler alert.* You may click to see a far-away view of the piece I'm talking about. I'm writing to give you a better picture of it, but you can skip this paragraph if you want to truly have your own first experience of it at the IMA.) At first I didn't notice anything special about it besides the weird, multi-colored shag carpet standing straight up under the casing. Then I saw a little face, frozen, looking up at me. It startled me. I bent down. He was a plastic figurine similar to a G.I. Joe, dressed in street clothes, pushing upward on the casing. He looked trapped. I felt sorry for him. And, come to think of it, the person next to him. And, WHOA! The thousands and thousands of people all stuck under the casing, looking up at me as they held up the entire floor. All these little figures, frozen in their time, supporting my weight. Such tremendous effort just to give me a place to walk.
I thought of how many people must've gone before me, devoted their entire lives to something or someone that has served to support me now. How many people has it taken to give me my standing in this time and place? I thought of the "great cloud of witnesses" watching my path in life. I thought about how not everyone is so fortunate as me to have so many people who have done things merely to see me succeed. How many people have completed their journey and are now holding up the ground, looking to see what I will do from here? How many people's work did it take to give me all the advantages I have? How many slaves? How many civil rights leaders? How many parents and parents and parents? How many people I never met? How many people in the communities where I've lived? How many people's teaching, provision, prayers? How many? This many? More? I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
Pat shared a bit at the funeral about how Larry Bianco had impacted his life by inviting him in, liking him, and being a consistent man in his life. I see Pat making pizza with Israel or inviting in a gang of kids who show up at the door or just plain liking people other people might not like. Those actions could be just part of who Pat is. But I also think he may truly have inherited some of Larry Bianco's loving hospitality. With that thought, I realize the deep gratitude I have for this man, though I only met him a couple of times. This man, remembered by many as a pillar in his own family, helped form the young man who would grow to be a wonderful husband and father in our own family. And now, from where we stand, he is frozen in time, having joyfully done what he could to raise the standing of those in his life...including Pat and me.
I'm not trying to be someone who gives too much credit to the deceased. However, I really will never know where I would be without this man who made a difference in my husband's life, affecting who he became. As I'm standing on the Floor that is the platform of my own life, taking the time to really see this one man's face and the work of his hands to provide support helps me to see just how many more there may be, holding us up, making all this possible. So today, as Larry Bianco joins that cloud of witnesses for a great feast, I thank God for His faithfulness through this man that was able to make a difference even in my own life. Thanks for Larry, who chose to be a gift to Pat so that he is now a gift to me.