April 2011 Archives

Keeping Life in Perspective

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How do we keep ourselves "right-sized" as we go through our daily routines? What allows us to keep things in proper perspective, seeking to find a balance in our approach to the world?

 

My wife and I recently joined two other couples on a trip to South America. After some sightseeing in Peru, we crossed over into Bolivia, where we met with the staff from the Quaker Bolivia Link (QBL), an international organization dedicated to the reduction of poverty amongst the indigenous peoples who live around La Paz. Projects are developed with eligible communities, with each family making a contribution to the effort and each community taking on the responsibility for future monitoring and maintenance of the projects. Travelling to a different village and a different project each day - projects such as community water systems, solar greenhouses, llama herd management, and trout farming - we came to meet many people from remote villages, living above 12,000 feet on the altiplano with few personal possessions and the barest of living accommodations. Delighted by our presence, and thankful for the organization's support, these men, women, and children were uniformly friendly and smiling, sharing with us their food and music and dancing in ways that were heartwarming and remarkable. It was a brilliant reminder that simplicity need not be onerous but can also embrace joyfulness. It also became clear that individual needs that are met through community efforts are further enriched by the sharing of hard work and dedication amongst neighbors and friends.

 

This has become my favorite way to travel - to experience the world's wonders and also meet the world's people in meaningful ways. Given our relative affluence, might we look to "service travel" more often for ourselves and our families?

 

My hope is that we might keep ourselves "right-sized" in our desires and hopes, being mindful of the level of need around the world and the limited resources available on our planet. Simplicity and community - two of our Quaker testimonies - are useful guidelines for keeping "right-sized" as we move forward in our lives.

 

Wishing one and all a blessed and healthy spring...     

 

In peace,

Teacher John Scardina  

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