“Your lessons are hard, oh God, let me be your good and patient pupil. I feel that I am one of many heirs to a great spiritual heritage. I shall be its faithful guardian.” – Etty Hillesum, killed in Auschwtiz on November 30, 1943
Today I am reflecting on the transformative impact of encountering misery – past or present – to discerning one’s path in life.
Confrontations with grave moral evils and injustices can be decisive turning points in a person’s life when he or she becomes summoned to personal responsibility with a sense of mission.
Jozef De Veuster was a Belgian Catholic who asked God to be sent on a mission.
Having done his formation for the priesthood in Belgium, he was then sent to Honolulu and was ordained two months later.
He took the name Damien and began his priestly ministry in the Hawaiian Islands.
During Fr. Damien’s time, there was a public health crisis. Mortality rates were high due to infectious diseases for which there was no herd immunity. Chinese workers were suspected of having brought the disease to the islands. The outbreak was not well understood and experts were unsure as to how it spread, whether it could be cured, and whether transmission could be stopped. The government passed mandatory quarantine legislation, even sending some people to isolate in remote locations. The officials insisted that these were not prisons, but there was certainly not enough medical supplies or doctors and nurses. Some experts thought the lepers would be better off dead. One health official conjectured, “It would seem that even demons themselves would pity their condition and hasten their death.”
Many of the things I learned during that workshop and, more recently, through Nas Academy courses continue to inform the work that I’m doing now. In fact, I often find that my education through seminars, conferences, and programs is at least as beneficial to my professional life as my traditional education.
And, even when a seminar is only a couple days, often the connections I make last much longer.
This is certainly true of the Freedom on the Big Screen seminar at which I met T.K. Coleman. T.K. is one of my favourite people to follow on Facebook. I am continually uplifted and inspired by his content.
Recently, he posted this on his page:
When the whole world seems to be losing its mind, that’s the BEST time to dial in on your mission.
The world needs people who can be composed, creative, and consistent in season and out of season.
The world is losing its mind, and I am deciding to blog every single day about death in a way that is consistently humanizing and uplifting. It won’t always be perfect, but part of the mission is the perseverance that comes through dying to perfectionism.