Friday, March 30, 2012

On My 38th Birthday

As I awoke this morning, I rose with a singular focus. Tired and groggy, but resolute. I began my pre-dawn ritual of reading and exercise with renewed determination.  My wife greeted me at the end of my  solitude and exercise with a wonderful breakfast, made with love, and my heart welled up with gratitude. Even as I write this, I am moved to tears for the gift I have been given to have this truly blessed life, and the opportunity I have to give back to others, and to serve as an ambassador of hope.

One year ago today, when I woke, I was greeted by the African sun, and faced, in an unavoidable way, with the reality that there are people on our planet who live on less than the buying power of one US dollar per day. These are hard working people, who lack in opportunities and choices that most of us take for granted.

One out of six people on our planet live in that condition. They don’t have access to clean drinking water, so quite often they are sick from drinking polluted water. For many living with these challenges, they are malnourished and unable to produce enough food to feed their families. Beyond this, illnesses like malaria and diarrhea threaten their lives in ways that most of us cannot begin to fathom.  And I dream of a day in which injustices like this are not part of our world.

Today I am 38 years old, and I have spent 13879 days learning and growing on this earth.  Each year, and each day for that matter, I find myself learning and growing in my understanding of how to truly live in this world. And the more I learn and grow, I find that the knowledge doesn’t make the living that much easier. Although, the lesson is simple. One’s life in one’s best moments is an opportunity to provide a window to others or a taste of what life looks like when God’s Kingdom comes and His will is done on earth as in heaven.  It is those moments when we live out our purpose best, and we love others as we love ourselves. And part of this life is a journey toward cultivating a life that reflects those moments often.

I am reminded today of an Annie Dillard quote—unfortunately I can’t remember the source. It goes something like this. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I have 38 years of days, some good and some bad, but all of them are past now. I have seen people living in desperation financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically, and I’ve seen glimmers of hope piercing past the pain.

I’m not sure how long I will be walking this earth; I guess none of us really are certain, but I want to spend my days, and my life well. Sometimes I think we have grand dreams for what we would like to accomplish and the impact that we will have on the world, and I think that these are great aspirations and hopes we should all run toward.  But at the same time, I know that the best thing I can do (and you as well) is to strive to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. None of us really do that in some grand plan. We do it in our daily interactions, our greetings on the street, our responses to challenges, and our willingness to love others, and be ambassadors of hope.

As I move forward into my 38th year of life on this planet, I long to make each day count. I long to make a difference in this world, and to be an instrument of ushering in beauty and justice in places where there are despair and injustice.  I’m grateful to be part of work that is helping to create a world in which people living in extreme poverty have choices and opportunities for a better future. And I’m thankful that as part of my role at Nuru, I am able to invite others to join in this amazing work. We all have a contribution to make while we have life and breath on this earth.

May today be a day during which we are able to contemplate what our unique contributions will be, and may we each be diligent in our efforts to make those contemplations reality. May we each strive to love others well, and to make our limited time on this earth count for the good of all. 

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