This past week the Pepperdine Lectures took place and I got to meet someone who, if given the chance, I would delight in spending more time with. Chi Ekwenye is the founder of Susana Homes, an orphanage in her hometown of Nigeria. After coming to the United States and getting her PhD at The University of Georgia she went back and established Susana Homes in order to provide a loving family for those children who had none.
Our afternoon together made me think about American ideas about love. So many people in our culture feel that love should be easy. Moreover, when that love is not easy, we want to be able to walk away (and, more often than not, we do). I cannot imagine the difficulty in doing what Chi does. In loving children who are sick, cast out, tainted by their pasts and (I am sure at least on their worst days) ungrateful. I cannot imagine the difficulty in this task, but Chi does this. She does this and she does it with grace, compassion, and a faith in God that I could only hope to emulate.
What would happen if we began loving people: siblings, parents, friends, partners, as Chi loves her children? I personally believe that many less people would walk away. People would continue to love one another when it is the most difficult, especially when it is the most difficult, because those are the times when selfless love can make the greatest impact. A short afternoon with Chi completely redefined my definition of what it means to love someone.
She also redefined my standards for what should be the length of a typical lunchtime meal...but that is another story for another time.