As one who has traveled far into (and come out of) the Valley of the Shadow of Death let me introduce you to one of the “saints” who prepared me for this journey.
How many of your “teachers” are people you have never met? How many of your teachers are persons you will never meet in this life? One word answer for me: “Plenty.” Longer answer: so numerous they are like the stars in the sky. I am grateful to be alive in this “Digital Age.”
Before I became ill and started into the Valley I was introduced to Nkosi Johnson, who became one of my teachers. Nkosi died in 2001 at the age of 12. He was born with HIV/AIDS and finally the illness defeated his body. His spirit, seemingly, was never defeated.
Not only is he a teacher (I hear his wisdom frequently and have used one powerful teaching in my “About” note on Twitter), but he is also one of my heros: I hope to be as courageous and loving as this boy “when I grow up.” Throughout my illness, I remembered: his wisdom, his spirit, his peace. In my weakness I drew strength from this child.
The “Word for the Day” on 3 August 2010 was one I remembered and spoke on my way out of the Valley: “Do all you can with what you have in the time you have in the place you are.” It was Nkosi’s final word to an interviewer (a well-traveled, accomplished, and much older reporter).
A few simple words, filled with a wisdom far beyond his years, crackling with a power that comes from knowledge gained by experience. I hope that you will read more about Nkosi. I hope that you will welcome him into your life as a teacher and hero and even a saint.
Read more about Nkosi
One boy’s heroism in the face of AIDS – the interview on NPR from which the Nkosi’s was spoken