Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 21, 2002
A call to service
Sept. 11 led man to replace money with people
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
Sometimes I know why people come to talk with me. Other times it's a surprise.
I've known Christian since he was a kid in elementary school. He went on to be an honours student in high school, attended a top-notch university and secured his CPA in short order. He's financially well set, engaged to be married to a lovely woman named Kim.
So what, I wondered, was our talk to be about?
Christian came in looking subdued and serious. "Father Jim, you know that I always wanted to go into the world of finance. I've been blessed; I got my first job right out of grad school and I really want for nothing money-wise."
As he spoke, I could sense his life plan was falling short. "Sept. 11 really wiped me out," he said, recounting the toll of knowing people like himself, many with little children, who were no more.
Christian recounted his experiences: attending over 20 funerals, helping to raise money for the lost firefighters and the families who now survived them, doing his part to help alleviate the suffering of too many.
He was quick to point out, "I'm doing no more than millions of others. Everyone wants to do something good, something helpful. We just don't want the people who are lost to be forgotten."
Everything Christian said was welcome, but not unusual. His response to this tragedy was exactly what you'd expect of people working with consciences. Then he went further.
"Those firefighters, the cops, the emergency medical service workers, they really were givers. They put themselves in harm's way because they chose a vocation of service to others. I want their life. I want to change direction. I want to get involved in a service career."
Now, you'd have to know Christian to realize that this was a major departure in his life plan. Accruing money and things had always been what he termed a "successful" life.
Oh, he'd give to charities. But his giving would be after profits and from the safety of a different world. The new Christian didn't want to keep a distance.
I asked him just what he was thinking about doing. He didn't know exactly, but spoke of the obvious choices, firefighter or police officer, as well as mentioning nursing or teaching as possibilities. He just wanted, he said, "to be able to say I made a direct difference for the good."
Christian's final decision might or might not mean a complete career change. Instead, he could commit some of his time and energy to volunteer work. One way or the other, I am convinced he will stay involved.
We've always been grateful that some people give their lives to the service professions. Now, we see how much we need them. Just maybe, we've been awakened to the importance of living our lives, at least in part, beyond our own desires.
When Christian looks to his future, it will include something done, hands on, for others. Can you imagine the world we could make if each one of us did the same?
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Good Neighbour, Good Citizen, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY 10017; or e-mail: email@example.com).
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