Ode to a Crossing Guard

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There is a very “famous” person who lives in a small town of just over 4,000 people. Her name is Terri and she is a crossing guard.

Terri blesses the lives of hundreds of people each and every day. Not only does she usher elementary-aged kids safely across the street, she also makes a point to wave to and smile at every single person who drives past. She does not let a single car pass without greeting its occupants. No matter how late you are to work, how much orange juice you just spilled in your lap, or how crappy your morning already seems to be going, Terri can transform your day. She has convinced me that a contagious smile is a spiritual gift and that an enthusiastic wave has healing power.

My youngest sister, Sophie, knows Terri on a much more personal level. Terri helps her cross the street, addresses her by name, and asks her about her day at school on her way home. This she does for all the students who pass by her. Terri is like the community aunt, and anyone who knows her loves her.

She has taught me that service can be simultaneously simple AND meaningful, and that just gives me a whole lot of hope. Sometimes I stress because all too often I fail to transform good intentions into action, and I know I will never have the drive to start a charitable organization. Terri is living, waving, smiling proof that simple acts of kindness can mean the world.   

President Uchtdorf said,

“God knows that some of the greatest souls who have ever lived are those who will never appear in the chronicles of history. They are the blessed, humble souls who emulate the Savior’s example and spend the days of their lives doing good.”

Relatively speaking, few people know of Terri, but this cheerful crossing guard has made her way into my personal history. She’s not concerned about impressing people. She does not worry about how many compliments her wardrobe will merit, or how many likes an Instagram post acquires. In fact, I highly doubt she’s ever heard of Instagram (she’s so refreshing). She understands that real joy—the kind that cannot be replicated—comes from making others happy. She helps these young students feel valued and important, and assures every passerby that they are indeed noticed. In a world of self-indulgence and the compulsion to look inward, Terri chooses to look outward. Always. By existing for others, she claims a joy that others rarely find. I hope to someday break free from the chains of selfishness that too often hold me back, because to be more like Terri is to be more like the Savior.

Alas, I am no poet or lyricist, but below is my feeble attempt at an ode to the world’s greatest crossing guard:

Terri, dear Terri,

You make all so merry,

With a wave and a smile,

You make each feel worthwhile.

Terri, dear Terri,

Our hearts you do carry,

You uplift and you brighten,

Our burdens you lighten.

President David O. McKay’s words do Terri far more justice:  “The noblest aim in life is to strive to make others happy.”

That, Terri does—neon vest and all.

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