photoSitting here in a coffee shop doing some work, my mind is focused but my heart is drifting off as the sounds of the new Arcade Fire dance within my head.

Last Sunday, my teenage daughter returned from her second trip to Rwanda. This time, they visited a refugee camp where thousands of people have been recently displaced from their homes in Tanzania often times with just the shirts on their backs. (My wife coincidentally remains in Rwanda for another week doing amazing work)

What can prepare a western mind for such an experience?

This week, a massive typhoon swept through the Philippines leaving millions displaced and thousand dead. My heart stops as I look through the pictures.

Have you given your heart an opportunity to stop lately? 

The other evening, a dear friend of mine and business partner’s son was in an automobile accident. The other driver was way beyond the legal alcohol limit and hit my friend’s son head-on at between 60 and 80 mph. My friend’s son is in stable condition, but will have probably at least a year recovery.

How does one respond to this such phone call?

A lost job, broken marriage, health coverage cancellation, awaiting test results to determine if cancer is present, miscarriage, a family member commits suicide, and the list goes on of the other things many of my friends are currently facing.

Everyday, life happens. But the irony is that no matter where one lives in the world and no matter how life happens, our heartbeats were all made by the same Hands.

Can I explain the heartbreaks of life?

However, one thing I know is that we are all knitted together. And yet as I sit here in this coffee shop, I look around and see people meeting with others or drinking coffee alone. If only I could see beyond their faces and into their lives. What stories are represented here today? Who is walking alone and who is not?

My wife once told me that if she could do anything, she would go to Rwanda at least one day a week and just hug the children. That they may know they are loved, not alone, and that there is hope.

But can I do something about the heartbreaks of life?

My daughter spoke to me about her heartbreak in Kerehe. She wants to return there next summer, if possible. But, she doesn’t want to wait until then to take action. She wants to do something about it. So, she is wanting to raise funds to help purchase shoes for the literally hundreds of children without them who were forced to leave their homes and now live in a tent city.

A friend from Facebook whom has many family members in the Philippines who also was posting his anger and sadness at the lack of empathy people were sharing regarding the massive typhoon that swept through his homeland, is now doing something about it. A hip/hop artist who recently served time, will now use his talents to raise awareness and funds towards relief efforts in the Philippines.

A father who received the call and then told by the police and doctors that his son was lucky to be alive knew he had to do something about it as he immediately reached out to friends asking for prayer. At the time of prayer being requested, he had no idea that his son was being extracted by the jaws of life from his car with life in the balance.

The result was immediate. People from all over the world took a moment and joined others to pray for his son.

With this, not only did the father take action asking for prayer, people all over the world through the power of social media were compelled to take action too, and so they prayed.

What will your action look like?

Friends, the amount of needs around us and within this world is overwhelming. It truly can become paralyzing. And, with the speed of media, they can also allow us to become desensitized.

From a post from a friend or a tweet from someone you don’t even know, are you listening for the opportunity? From the elderly person sitting across the cafe from you drinking coffee alone and eating a pastry to the single mom who is working three jobs to make ends meet, what will your action look like? To the one in your midst who is suffering through the consequences of bad choices, or the one who has everything they’ll ever need but still feel so all alone, how will you love them for sustainable action and unconditional love judges not. It simply sees beyond the effect and goes for the cause.

Will you dare to act? Anyone can do nothing. 

I love the lyric in the song Albertine about Brooke Fraser’s trip to Rwanda that sings… I have seen, now I am responsible.

Transformative action begins when it is no longer about us. 

So what keeps us from listening?

For 42 years of my life, it was me. What is it for you?

Be tired of talking about it and become relentless in doing something about it. The world needs you. Big or small the action, all the darkness in the world can’t hold back the light of one’s eternal flame lit to bless another and not that of oneself.

How do I combat the heartbreaks of this world? I light a candle of action and this can be simply listening, praying, loving, forgiving, funding, mobilizing, educating, carrying, but mainly it simply requires… just showing up and being willing.

What will your action look like?

I sure like this new Arcade Fire record. It’s good music to ponder to.

                                                                                                     

The irony of such a ponder and post like this…

Upon finishing this post today, I checked Facebook to see if my wife had made any updates from Rwanda because it had been a few days since we heard anything and would you look at this…

Her post read:

A couple days without internet and so many things i could post about, but today we were doing a home visit and our van became stuck. Behind us, the road was too steep to back up the hill, and going forward, the road was too narrow with a ditch on the side. Calling AAA was not an option. These two men dug, filled in the ditch, and leveled the narrow area so we could pass on down the road. Love and kindness in action.

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6 responses »

  1. John Fischer says:

    Wow. Those with their own needs reaching out to help your wife!

  2. Betty Schmuck Simonsen says:

    This actually leaves me speechless,Gunnar…Just “WOW”.

  3. Kura.Kimanna says:

    It’s sad how many do nothing, but certainly shows the truth of people’s empathy when something is done to help. A Facebook friend of mine is brothers with a Christian hip hop artist who did a couple of concerts to raise money for their town in Oklahoma when the weather there caused a lot of damage. Another helped their neighbor by creating a youcaring.com account to help raise money for their medical bills, and so many others do great things.

    While the reality is, not all will go to such lengths to help their fellow man, many do. It’s good to focus on those doing the right thing; those diving into the waters of injustice to help create a better world.

    Great post. 🙂

  4. @gunnarsimonsen says:

    Reblogged this on Thoughts from the Horizon and commented:

    Reblogging this from my main site. Humbled by the response so far.

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