I’m in Brazil. My flight connected through Atlanta and I picked up a 17-year-old boy at the airport. I met him the last time I was in Brazil. He was here with his family. This time his parents entrusted me with his safety. Little do they know that his presence in my life is a much bigger gift for me than my semi-parental/big brother role here in Brazil.
This journey of mine since January has given me so many gifts and sitting in the Atlanta airport with a young man who as been battling what I got in January since he was 9 is an indescribable experience. Not only is this one of the few people in the world who knows truly how I feel, but he’s 17 and its as if he’s my wise old teacher. He’s brilliant, taking 5 Advance Placement Honors classes usually held for Seniors as a Junior in High School. He quotes intricate texts from the bible in simple ways, applying biblical lessons to my daily life. There is so much unsaid between us that doesn’t need to be said. It’s like we’re Vietnam soldiers sitting around a fire but one of us is a rookie and the other is a 4-tour lifer. I’m the friggin rookie. Hardly anyone outside his family and docs knows about his condition. It doesn’t define him, he doesn’t let it limit his potential in any way and he does it all with a great big smile.
So here is this beautiful boy who I know would have been beautiful anyway but I cant help to think that the tragic ailment we share has deepened him beyond all measure. I find myself looking up to him daily. The stuff that comes out of this kid’s mouth (and heart) is as extemporaneous as it is profound. Every once in a while he’ll call me “dude” and it’s almost weird. My wise old Zen Master isn’t supposed to call me “dude.” Oh, wait, you’re 17!
We were eating dinner and he starts telling me about Zacharias in the Old Testament who denounced Archangel Gabriel for saying his wife was pregnant. Zacharias was immediately unable to speak until 9 months later when the baby was born (John the Baptist). Teach him to argue with an angel! Then I try to pull out some smart remark about Saul going blind on the Road the Damascus, then he starts going into a very interesting story about The Road to Emmaus and I am engrossed and in awe at the same time. Am I really having these conversations about life and love and faith with a person young enough to be my child?
A small window into the life that I have now that you may find boring but for me everyday is like an adventure. I was so touched by Nan’s last post I was hoping to share with you more of the same from the other end of the world. These two young people have one big thing in common: Faith. They have faith in everything. Themselves. Their friends and family. And most of all a Higher Power that gives them the security to live every day to the fullest. They trust in this faith completely. And it’s not a blind faith or a fundamental faith, things I used to be so judgmental of. Its a faith full of love and forgiveness and smiles. Big smiles.