Claire Minkley was 19 when she died. Hers was a brief life by any standard. Yet despite its brevity, she continues to be a source of inspiration, not just to me, but to many others. She was born severely handicapped physically, so much so that she could not speak andl was only able to communicate using her eyes and slight motion of her right hand. Her mind, however, was fully able, both intellectually and spiritually. Claire had a deep love and understanding of Jesus; nothing got in the way of her faith.
Claire was an excellent student and a passionate writer. At 19, the last year of her life, she was enrolled as a student in first year math and physics on scholarship at the University of Victoria. Throughout her life, she wrote poetry based on her family and her faith. Although it was a painstaking effort, Claire left a legacy of works that was eventually compiled into a book, “Utterly in Jesus’ Love”, by her father.
Her difficulty in communicating had its own lasting legacy, as it led a team at the University of Victoria to develop various technologies to assist. While Claire may be gone, the products and concepts she inspired and helped to create continue helping others. She said of the researchers and their work: “Imagine you are playing the piano and no one can hear you. That is how I feel. Thank you for putting sound to my music.” Even in a simple word of thanks her skill with words is evident, as is her graciousness.
Although I never met Claire, her writings and her story, as well as the commitment and faith of her parents, continue to inspire me. Through her I learned to look beyond physical limitations to see the true strength of a person. Although her life was brief, her positive impact on others, both as a poet and an inspiration for new technology, continues unabated. Is it any wonder she made a lasting impression on me and many others?
Jesus lived for only around 33 years. His ministry and teachings lasted less than a tenth of his life, only 3 years or so. In that short time, He changed the lives of many for that better, and set the stage for a sweeping change in how Humanity understands God. Although his life was short and his ministry even shorter, His legacy was eternal.
Our impact on others isn’t dependent on time. How we affect a stranger can take only seconds. A teacher may only have a student for a year, but that short timespan might well shape that child for the rest of her life. Some people might leave our lives far too soon, but they way they touched us will be with us for as long as we live.
Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be enough time, but in truth, even the briefest time together can be more than enough to make a lasting impression.