As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I remember the weathered face of an ordinary, middle-aged man who taught me more about gratitude than any book or Bible verse ever could. His name was João, and I met him at an international publishing conference in São Paulo, Brazil. The sessions were interesting but draining, partly due to the multitude of languages spoken. Thankfully, on the final day of the conference, the organizers scheduled a day of recreation at the beach. Piling into one of the 15-passenger vans, I was not too surprised to find João in the driver’s seat. The seminary’s longtime maintenance man cheerfully wore many hats. “João-of-all-trades,” we called him.
Many years ago, I read a story about a woman named Evy who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. As her body deteriorated, so did her self-image. She would sit in front of a full-length mirror in her wheelchair and look at her body with disgust. But instead of hiding from it, Evy decided to sit before the mirror every single day and study her changing body. After a few months, Evy began noticing certain features that she still liked: her auburn hair, her slender fingers, her smile. What surprised her most is that she actually started looking forward to these daily sessions. More here...
I have a tendency to make big mistakes. Sure, I make little ones too: but it’s the big ones I remember best, partly because they often teach me something.
One of my biggest mistakes started as a mindless act of kindness. One April morning, a Bosnian family I had befriended the year before was evicted from their home. Have you ever seen the aftermath of an eviction? It’s one of the saddest scenes in the world: adults digging through dumpsters filled with soiled clothing and soggy schoolbooks, children wailing at their feet, spoiled food littering the alley. A modern triptych. More here...