“I hope you come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you. …something worth living for, maybe even worth dying for…something that energizes you, enthuses you, enables you to keep moving ahead.”
- written by Ita Ford
U.S. nun and missionary, to her 16-year-old niece
Growing up in rural America in the 1960s and 1970s, I felt that anything was possible. When I addressed my graduating class on our final day of high school, I urged them to dare to dream — I felt then that anything was possible.
We were raised with big hearts, soaring dreams, and no fear. That is still what I would wish for in the life of every young adult, but I know with great clarity that the world is so incredibly different now, and our wishes simply have to be tempered with guarded directives.
Disenchantment. There are days I feel an incredible sorrow for the children of this world.
Consider the landscape of the world, both the physical and all of the intangibles, and think how disenchanted our youth must be.
I have watched incredibly talented, self-motivated young people go through four or more years of college, because the world insists that they must. Those who are the least connected in terms of family financial graces end up coming out of college with enough debt to choke a horse, and far too often, no job on the horizon.
It is a tough start in a tough terrain, to say the very least.
We were taught that if you give with enough gusto to the world at large, you will be rewarded. That was before we had grasped the possibility of random acts of violence, hate for the sake of hollow passion.
That was before the world changed before our eyes one beautifully blue September morning.
A light of life. Ita Ford was an incredible light in the lives of those who knew her. She had spent her adult life as a nun and missionary, urging others to give with the open heart and open mind that she carried with such grace.
When she wrote a letter to her 16-year-old niece, she was writing from El Salvador where she was serving as a missionary.
She was urging her beloved niece to keep searching for that which would give her the peace and joy and passion that we wish for in those who we adore.
Three months later, Ita Ford was dead, murdered in El Salvador by the very people she was there trying to help. The rebel group held responsible for the brutal rape and murder simply said, “She was no longer wanted here.”
It is another reminder that the here and now is fleeting, and while we must make our choices with a long view, we also must live very much in the moment. Ita Ford likely would not have done anything differently, for she was following her passion.
Giving. Another September has arrived, another school year has begun, and we watch another chapter unfold.
There is so little time given to make the monumental choices that a young person must make before being thrown to the world at age 18 or so. They need us, the adults in their lives, to be as filled with kindness, compassion and understanding – not to mention stability – as we can possibly give.