By James Beaty
Carter Eaton told a group of men at Friday’s Holy Week Breakfast how much it means they have sacrificed their time and effort in order to help the generations following them.
Eaton, who is a McAlester High School senior, spoke to a group of 137 men and teens gathered at the First Presbyterian Church in McAlester. Representing the First United Methodist Church, Eaton spoke to the gathering as those present partook of a breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, biscuits, gravy, sausage and grits.
He began with a story about an aged recluse who lived deep in the mountains. When the man died, distant relatives came to collect his valuables.
As they entered his old shack, all they found next to a rock fireplace was an old cooking pot, a cracked table, a three-legged chair, a kerosene lamp and dilapidated cot with a threadbare bedroll on it.
The man’s family picked up a few relics and began to leave, Eaton said.
As they were driving away, a friend of the recluse riding a mule flagged them down.
“Do you mind if I help myself to what’s in my friend’s cabin?” he asked, as they told him to go ahead, thinking what inside that shack could be worth anything?
The old friend entered the shack and walked directly over to the table, reached under it, lifted a floor board — and proceeded to remove all the gold his friend has discovered over the past 53 years.
“Friends, this is a story of hidden treasure,” Eaton said.
Noting it was Good Friday, Eaton said he used to wonder what’s so good about Good Friday?
“After all, this is the day our Lord and Savior was nailed to a piece of wood and left to die,” he said.
“I realize now this brutal, terrible act was hidden treasure, just like the old miner’s gold — but this hidden treasure’s more valuable than gold,” Eaton said.
“This hidden treasure is sacrifice, because the day Jesus was crucified was also the day Jesus scacrificed himself for our sins — and no miner’s gold could ever be worth that sacrifice.
“You see, my life has been influenced by men in our community just like you, perhaps even by some of you,” Eaton said. “Most likely, each of you, at one time or another, have sacrificed your time to have a positive influence on the lives of young people like me.”
As an example, Eaton told how he had participated in a mock trial competition this year. A mock trial is a competition where high school students learn the rules of evidence and trial procedure, then prepare a case as if they were going to trial. Next, they compete in the mock trial competition with other teams from across the state.
“We advanced to the semi-finals this year, further than McAlester has ever made it,” Eaton said.
He said the students weren’t the ones making the sacrifice. He realized what a sacrifice had been made by men like Associate District Judge James Bland, Special District Judge Tim Mills and Assistant District Attorney Chuck Sullivan.
“They spent countless hours with us,” Eaton said. “They hosted our practices at the courthouse on weekends and evenings; they learned the case along with us; helped us understand the rules of evidence.” They also traveled with the group to competitions.
“They weren’t getting paid,” Eaton said. “They sacrificed their time for the good of others, for me.”
Eaton told those present he realized many of them have sacrificed their time too.
“I know that you have probably sacrificed to help young people like me, whether it was coaching at the Boys and Girls Club, or helping with an after-school program. Maybe you were a volunteer at school ,or a church youth organization.
“That type of sacrifice is the hidden treasure I want to remind you of on this day of sacrifices,” Eaton said.
“Those may seem small in comparison to the sacrifice made by our Lord. But make no mistake, those sacrifices can make a huge difference in someone’s life.”
During the mock trial, Eaton said he found something enjoys in addition to playing guitar.
“My dad says this is something I might actually be able to make a living at — and we all know the world needs more lawyers,” he said, drawing some chuckles from the crowd.
“But seriously, if it had not been for the sacrifices of these men and the school sponsor, Mrs., Richards, I would be going to college next year without a path,” he said.
Eaton said he wasn’t saying he would definitely graduate from the University of Oklahoma as a Sooner lawyer.
“But I am heading to college with a clear path, thanks to the sacrifices of men like you,” he said.
Eaton closed with another reference.
“So on this Good Friday, I want to thank all those men who are the hidden treasure of McAlester,” Eaton said.
“Thanks for being a coach; thanks for volunteering: Thanks for taking time to visit a young person, letting them know you care.”
Keep doing what you’re doing, Eaton said.
“It means a great deal to those of us who are just starting out,” he said. “And your sacrifice will change someone’s life, just like the kernels from Jesus’ words.
“It is hidden treasure, whether you know it or not.”
Contact James Beaty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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