Get up and get a LIFE!

A Word from Mack

Volume 21, Issue 3

Winter 2016-2017

This experience which we call, “Life,” is just altogether too large for words. I mean, sometimes the days are so slow it’s like watching an inch worm drag itself across a brick. And at times the speed of passing years leaves you breathless almost approaching the speed of light itself. Remember when Sinatra sang: “For it’s a long, long while from May to December, but the days grow short when you reach September.”?

Well, I remember when I was a youngster, each and every day seemed like a 700-page adventure novel being read and lived in slow motion. You just pay more attention to everything back then. And how strange that it seems like just an eye-blink away. Yesterday! I was with my Mom and Dad for my big sister’s first “Back to School” night for Miss Doyle’s first grade class at Creswell Elementary School. Those first graders in her class appeared to me to be the oldest, wisest, most suave and sophisticated folks I had ever seen. After a month at school they were throwing their weight around in front of all the little brothers and sisters still shadowing their moms and dads.

I first met Tommy Watts that night. His big brother, Jack, was in my big sister’s class. Two years later, Tommy and I strutted around as omnipotent-omniscient six-year-olds in front of the “little kids” at our own “Back to School” night. We went all of the way through high school commencement together. Blink. I didn’t see Tommy again for 31 years. Different colleges, different careers, different life journeys. Then, in 1994, I sent a letter to every friend I could think of asking for help. I needed to raise support to set me free to start Community Renewal in Shreveport. I sent a letter to Tommy and the next week “Tom” Watts called me.

“Mackie, I am sending you $500, but I really want to talk to you about renewing our community.” Blink. I’m sure you have seen the Marquee Lights of Tom’s life. They belong on some Celestial Broadway: over 50,000 “We Care Team” members; an annual “Celebration of Caring” in downtown Shreveport drawing crowds from far and near just to hurrah something good and decent in each of us; over 20,000 students in Caddo and Bossier Parish committing to care for one another; opening the door for renewal’s replication in Bossier Parish Community College, and Northwestern State University; delivering lectures and presentations all across America on the power of caring in a committed crowd of folks; leading the annual “We Care” Essay Contest for Caddo and Bossier Parish Schools; starting men’s groups to teach them that there is true strength in true caring; mentoring men in one-to-one training sessions all across the city; authoring one of the best books on training men ever penned under the title, Discipleship Today:  A Leader’s Guide For Making Disciples!

My dear friends, there is no “blink” here. When you are standing in front of a Rembrandt, you stop, you stare, you study, and you take off your hat. So it is with the masterpiece that became Tom’s life. After his phone call in 1994, he did more than “really want to talk.” He committed himself to the Cause of Renewing humanity one person at a time and teaching each of them to do the same. In the words of the prophet, Malachi, and then the Angel Gabriel, Tom spent the rest of his life “turning the hearts of the fathers to their children.” He left a successful career to devote all that he was and all that he had to living as an instrument of peace in a broken world. Tom loved to say, “I used to get up and go to work. Now I get up and go to LIFE!” Tommy and I lived through the scorching summers of the early 50’s when polio ravaged  children. Then the Mothers Marched! And just days ago my granddaughter asked, “PaPa, what’s ‘polio?'” And because Tom lived, and because you and I must live as he lived, may the day  come when we hear the question from rose petal lips, “Mommy, daddy, what’s ‘hate?'”

Oh, come join this team of caring people today. Get everyone you know to join with us. And, just like Tom, we, too, will get up and go to LIFE!!! And what’s infinitely more, we will bring a life worth living to the little ones.