March 15th 2013
"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." (Anais Nin )
I walked into the front office to retrieve my mail. Most of the staff had left for the day. It was Friday and nearly six o' clock.
"Mr Main," came a familiar voice from behind. "Do you want to see my report card?"
I turned to see Precious Stevens--a parent of two of our CamdenForward School students.
Precious pulled out her report card and showed each magnificent advancement. Every category--reading, writing, math--displayed significant improvement. She'd been working with tutors and taking night classes the past few years.
"I'll be taking my GED exam soon!" she pronounced after I finished my thorough review.
I assured Precious that we'd throw a party when she received her high school degree. I gave her a high five and headed to the front door to start my weekend. Later that night I found myself in front of the television watching Brian Williams of NBC. His news program Rock Center featured an expose on Camden about the crime and violence that plagued the city this past year. Far from an encouraging report, Williams highlighted the record number of violent deaths, a disintegrating police department, and a drug trade that is out of control. Then I remembered Precious and my encounter that afternoon.
Five years earlier, journalist Diane Sawyer had done a similar story on Camden. In that program Sawyer featured a young, homeless, illiterate woman struggling to provide shelter for her two young boys on the streets of Camden. Her name was Precious.
The outpouring of love and compassion generated from the show was overwhelming. UrbanPromise was able to help Precious find an apartment and a job, enroll her boys at our school, and assist with her education. Perhaps the city had not changed dramatically over the past five years, but Precious' life had.
I turned off the television, closed my eyes, and reflected on my late afternoon encounter with the same Precious. I pondered that moment again, remembering her smile, excitement, pride, and joy. And then it dawned on me. This encounter was not an interruption to my workday. It was not an inconvenience at the end of a busy week. This encounter was a gift, given by the one who is faithful and good.
Anais Nin once wrote that writers are people who "taste life twice." I've always liked that quote. I think the same is true for Christians who take the time to reflect and recognize the gifts God gives in the ordinary moments of each day. When we stop to ponder, reflect, and meditate we place ourselves in a position to "taste" the miracle of life--both as it happens and in retrospect. God is always present, enveloping us in a shroud of sacredness. We just need to pause long enough to notice.
Dr. Bruce Main
President & Founder, UrbanPromise