Friday, September 21, 2012

How Do You Walk Through the World?

Last night, I had the privilege of participating in The Literacy Center of the Midlands fundraiser, "The Spelling Bee."

In her opening comments, the executive director noted that over 77,000 people in the Omaha metro area are functionally illiterate.  And because they can't read, they are some of the most intelligent, creative, resourceful people she knows.

Driving down city streets, they know to turn left or right based on landmarks.  They figure out food labels in grocery stores, how to interpret bills in their mailboxes and how to apply for jobs even though many have no experience with online tools.

Seated at my table was a woman who is a student at the Literacy Center.  She shared her story and my soul was stirred.

At the age of 50+ years old, she's starting over again.  She wants something different, something better for her life.  She's doing what she said she should have been doing a long time ago...getting the skills she needs to navigate and thrive in the world.

And it's not easy.  It takes a willingness to be vulnerable, to fall on your face, to keep trying, and to trust that eventually these skills (that most of us take for granted) will emerge.

Her story and the entire event gave me extraordinary pause.

We all walk through the world...side by side...wanting the best lives for ourselves, for those we love.  We sacrifice, we hope, we try, we fail, we believe, we yearn for more.

But what was different in this woman was how she walked...she wasn't afraid of what it would take to learn, she was afraid of what she would become if she didn't make change in her life.

I want that.  I want to fear what will become of me if I don't do what I should do....instead....of how painful or hard or scary it will be to take on the task at hand.

We have so much to learn from one another.  I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to walk alongside her for a little while last night.

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