Postcard from Asheville
How do you begin to describe a life altering experience? Friends have asked, “What was your biggest take-away?” It’s taken several months to know how to answer them.
For years, I’ve written “We are all one” and “We are here to love,” but it wasn’t until I was with the children of Kenya that these abstract concepts came alive. Looking into the children’s beautiful ebony faces, innocent eyes, and bright smiles, I fell in love a thousand times. I had no children; now I have many.
I particularly bonded with one child. Clinton isn’t much of a student. He spent his early school years in public school and doesn’t have as strong an academic background as many of his fellow students. But Clinton has a quality far more valuable in my book: emotional intelligence. Before I left Kenya, I took Clinton aside and told him that I believe in him, and I do. This young boy could well become the next president of Kenya. I’ve thought about Clinton every day since I’ve returned. He has inspired me.
“So, what is next?” friends ask. “Will you return?” I am not sure if I will return. Even if I don’t, these children will remain with me. Through them, I’ve discovered my passion for helping children discover, claim, grow, and use their unique gifts.
Like Clinton, each of us has at least one attribute, skill, or talent that is special—that only we can give to the world. When we discover that gift and give it freely, our lives are enriched. We find joy.
Already, several opportunities have come to me to work with children who are at critical juncturesin their lives. I am helping them discover their greatness. One is a 15-year-old boy in foster care I’ve been mentoring over the past year. He was recently suspended from school. We are now meeting twice a month to inventory his unique strengths. Our goal is to discover that place where his interests and skills intersect. After only two meetings, I’ve seen his self-esteem improve.
Several years ago, I worked with a young man who had lost both parents and was close to living in the street. I helped him get into the Job Corps. Now’s he’s out with a high school diploma and we’re exploring jobs in law enforcement.
I do this for them, for the children of Kenya, and for me. After all, we are all one. And as I do this, I my heart opens, and I am filled with love.
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