Advice from a single mom dying of cancer
Adima Shirky (1994 –)
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Bronwen is a nurse and works in the medical clinic in Bellvale. At age nineteen, before attending nursing school, she worked for a year in the community kitchen, overseeing the team putting food on the table for 250 people every day, a responsibility that meant she was often in the kitchen after hours.
A friend and I started making granola and yogurt for the other young people who would come to the kitchen after work to make coffee and heat up leftovers. The kitchen became a kind of informal hangout: in off hours there would be a lot of young people in there, sitting on counters with their bowls of granola and talking. People really appreciated it: it was a good way to make space for friendship and conversation. On days when I don’t really connect with anybody – work-related chatter doesn’t count – I’m left feeling kind of blank. But even one good conversation about real life can make my day worthwhile.
That’s just one example. It’s easy to get into the mindset that once I’ve done my allotted work I can sign out for the day, but that’s not what discipleship means. In fact, sometimes focusing on my job gets in the way of actually living in community with people – taking time to talk, to go the extra mile giving practical help to an older person, or just finding ways to bring a smile to someone’s face. But because I live in community I have the freedom to prioritize people over the work that needs to be done.
We are grateful that we can live to demonstrate unity with peoples of all nations, and help to build up, not destroy, the brotherhood of man. And, whether we wash or cook is small in comparison with that vision. It’s a case of “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” [Psalm 84:10]. I find happiness in washing for the kingdom of God, where I’d only find misery in making, say, ammunition for its destruction.
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With photography by British photojournalist Danny Burrows, this 300-page hardcover book celebrates what is possible when people take a leap of faith. It will inspire anyone working to build a more just, peaceful, and sustainable future.
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