Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Blurred Calendar

Nothing blurs my calendar like travel. Trains and planes and automobiles, I wish I had started a mileage log years ago. The past three weeks I have traveled coast-to-coast. Almost.

Working from most recent events, this past weekend in Orlando for the Synergy Conference http://synergytoday.org/ brought me face-to-face with one of my favorite contemporary Christian writers, Lauren Winner. She wrote/ published her first book at age 24, a memoir called Girl Meets God http://www.laurenwinner.net/books/girlmeetsgod.html.

Lauren spoke to the group gathered in Orlando on writing memoir. Lauren admitted, “I had book lust,” as a way to emphasize the difference between writing and publishing, encouraging those of us interested in memoir should write first. Worry about publishing later, if at all. Her speed editing of a piece I had written elicited some helpful comments and book recommendations. What a gift.

The night before the Florida trip, my friend Sandi and I attended an Austin College reception for author/humanitarian, Greg Mortenson, who wrote the NYT bestseller, Three Cups of Tea http://www.threecupsoftea.com/ Greg received a $100,000. cash award from AC, The Posey Leadership Award, set up to recognize outstanding “servant leadership.”

Greg said he plans to use his gift “as seed money” to fund scholarships for girls with “a fierce desire to go to school,” to pursue education beyond secondary school. Greg repeated a principle, guiding his efforts from the beginning of his work in Pakistan and Afghanistan:

“If you educate a boy, you educate the individual.

If you educate a girl, you educate the community.”

Greg listens to and asks people in the countries where he works, “How can I help you?”

The people respond, “We don’t want our babies to die. We want our children to go to school.” Who doesn’t want that? 

What Greg Mortenson has done testifies to power beyond mere human aspiration or resolve. Where he continues to work, to invest his life, has yielded astonishing results. General David Petraeus now requires U.S. military officers headed to Afghanistan to read Three Cups of Tea. Greg quoted a saying, “The ink of a scholar is greater than the blood of a martyr.” 

When Greg Mortenson signed my copy of his book, “Carol—God bless” with a flourished “G” [for Greg] underneath, those two words “God bless” answered the main question I kept asking as I read his book. Who does he rely on for strength, the resources needed to accomplish the extraordinary tasks set before him? Does he know Whom to thank?

A footnote to story, not in Mortenson’s book, he spoke of growing up in Tanzania where his father and Dr. Robert Jensen worked together to build the Kilimanjaro Medical Center. Yes, that’s Rosemary Jensen's husband, Robert. She served as former Executive Director of BSF, now heads Rafiki Foundation headquartered in Florida  http://www.rafiki-foundation.org/ 

My calendar blurred, my eyes crossing, my feet hurting, I thank God for the opportunities compressed into these past few weeks and trust that in days ahead I can devote some time to share more with you.

1 comment:

San said...

I was the happy recipient of your presence at both events, which enriched them immensely.