Christmas is upon us and I realize that I have been conspicuously absent this month. An odd day to resurface, perhaps, but as you pause today to spend time with family and friends or at least enjoy a day off from work, I want to share a recent anecdote from my trip to Afghanistan.
Imagine a place in which it is unfashionable to live on the hill. With no running water, no electricity, and no paved roads, bringing fresh water up from a distant well is taxing—it can take the whole day just to fetch enough fresh water for your family. Imagine a place where children play in dirt or tend their father's store all day, because there are not adequate public schools. Imagine having no change of clothes and eating the same thing every day. Imagine your friend being blown up by a landmine or you losing your father in a suicide bombing just a few paces from your house.
You need not imagine this—you can see it yourself in Kabul, Afghanistan. I just did. And it wasn't pretty. And yet I saw something else too: an odd sense of contentment, children laughing, men and women smiling as they shared amongst each other what little they had, and most importantly, a sense of hope, hope that the situation is improving and that there is light around the corner.
Christmas is about hope and I find myself very hopeful this Christmas. 2012 is winding down and I have no idea what I'll be doing in 2013, though only a week away. And that excites me. I need not worry—opportunity abounds—but I also trust that on this day and every day that follows, I can act a bit like the many wonderful Afghans I met. With hope. And contentment. And charity.