Of Flags and Bridges (My monthly gratitude list)

coro bridge

The majestic Coronado Bridge.

What a week! Sunday brought the terrible news of the loss of Julius, one of my kids in Uganda. (Selah.)

Then came the grand news that Dorah (age 20, one of my oldest) impressed the embassy and was issued a scholar’s visa to come to San Diego for the summer institute where she is a fellow.

Then the tragic news of a friend’s loss, and of a knife attack on the manager at AidChild’s Olubugo on her way home from work.

Sitting here with a heavy heart, I realized that the timing couldn’t be better for me to populate my monthly gratitude list. In times of darkness, even a flicker of gratitude illuminates and shines.

The number of my list matches the day’s date. Today is May 18th, and here is a list of 18 things I’m grateful for, should it be of interest (in no particular order):

  1. Bridges. Often soaring and majestic, they serve as such brilliant metaphors for seemingly impossible connections and journeys.
  2. Connections and journeys.
  3. That my kids picked orange as the color of Julius’ flag. (If you don’t know about our flags, click here.)
  4. That the manager at AidChild’s Olubugo is recovering from successful surgery after the terrible knife attack yesterday.
  5. Mobile technology, another seemingly impossible bridge. I can only imagine what comes next.
  6. What comes next.
  7. Emails and texts from my kids, sharing when they’re happy, reaching out when they’re in need.
  8. My parents.  Generous, smart, hardworking, good.  (Mom’s birthday is tomorrow.)
  9. Watering my plants.
  10. The combination of warm-sun and cool-breezes. Their duality is a Divine wonder.
  11. Divine wonders.
  12. The ritual of lighting a candle when saying a prayer.
  13. Watching as hope-petals reopen in wilting hearts.
  14. Giving things away.
  15. Receiving.
  16. Having friends I can call on in times of need.
  17. A cheery voice on the other end of the telephone.
  18. My kids.

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One Response to Of Flags and Bridges (My monthly gratitude list)

  1. suzy from Africa
    May 19, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Oh Nathan, my dear. You live with such intense emotions and happenings in such diverse worlds of existence. From deep IN THE VILLAGE of Africa to downtown San Diego. From the challenges of running business and managing staff to the quiet moments in the chapel at the UNIVERSITY. Dealing with the training of so many teen agers and the sweet embraces from your babies. Interacting with PHD cohorts and the intellectual stimulus from the relationships with professors and deans. Answering hundreds of emails–most of which are asking you for help. Rejoicing in NEW LIFE and at the same moment you are engaged in a dance with sorrow and loss. The DAILY painful reality of needing to raise funds to take care of so many thousands of lives and needs. My friend, it makes my head swim just thinking about it and yet you LIVE IT day after day. MOST ASTONDINGLY you live it WITH A HEART OF GRATEFULNESS. I am humbled and honored to be your friend. You empower me and draw me upward to better and higher purposes. Thank you again for being YOU!!! Suzy

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Nathaniel is CEO of AidChild.org. He holds a Master's Degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University where he was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and winner of the 2010 Harvard HDP Marshal Award. He also holds a PhD in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego where he was the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership, and a Cordes Fellow at Opportunity Collaboration. Nathaniel is author of "We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life." Prior to his move to Uganda in 2000, Nathaniel was Deputy Director of the Office of the Governor of Arizona, and Director of Education at Leadership, Inc.

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