Sunday, December 06, 2009

"Light Just One Candle"-Reflection

By: Nasir Al-Amin
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

At 4:00 am on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 I stepped on a flight destined for Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. I have traveled to Addis once or twice a year since 2003. This trip from its inception has been marked by inner growth, thus resonating with me as a spiritual journey. The pressing realities of disenfranchised children and impoverished young women pushed to the margins in search for sustenance have on a number of occasions awakened me form a state of spiritual slumber. For this awakening I am grateful.

On the surface it’s a trip to reconnect with orphans and vulnerable women that I serve in Ethiopia. To say that their plight is sobering is an understatement. The superficial facades and desires within myself become apparent once our eyes meet. Their hope and resolve informs my soul of a higher purpose, it reminds my spirit of my life’s work: service.

This trip was particularly unique in that I brought 12 co-workers along with me to share in this experience. We took with us suitcases filled with clothes and school supplies for the orphans I serve. However, my aim for this trip was to afford my co-workers the same opportunity I was blessed with: to touch and be touched by one life, one smile, and one story—in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to allow them to “light just one candle.”

"At a tender age I discovered that it isn't doing spectacular things that make you remarkable in the eyes of God, but instead, it is when you light just one candle to dispel a little bit of darkness that you are doing something tremendous. And if, as a global people, we put all the little bits of good together, we will overwhelm the world."

These trips to Ethiopia are my way of dispelling a bit of darkness, a humble attempt to “overwhelm the world” with the light of compassion, which is most visible through service.

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