As we head into the weekend, I find myself reflecting on another moment in my life when I was surrounded by events that felt bigger than life, humbled by watching history in the making. In the summer of 1994, I accepted a job in Rwanda just after the genocide. I vividly remember driving through the empty rural countryside, rolling green hills, occasional herds of cows, then Kigali, the city center pocked with bullets, abandoned in ruins. So began the slow process of rebuilding. I worked with UNICEF for two years supporting psychosocial programs for children in especially challenging circumstances – unaccompanied children, child soldiers, even children in prison. I felt overwhelmed, unprepared, small in the face of so much suffering and need. Yet I will always remember the courage of the Rwandan people I met and with whom I had the privilege of working. Their powerful love for their families, friends, and country, their incredible drive to rebuild even after such unspeakable loss left a permanent imprint on me.
So we find ourselves also at this historic moment. Catastropic and tragic yes, yet also full of courage and resolve, stories of loss and also of renewal. Perhaps this weekend, we can start our own pandemic diary, commit to a new health goal, plant a victory garden, read that inspiring book, or volunteer for a local organization for the homeless, elderly, or vulnerable in your town. Remember that you too will leave an imprint. Find joy in small things and be brave, my friend, your love, courage, and kindness will shine brightly in this present darkness and lead us into the next chapter of rebuilding.