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Strangers who Inspire

After spending almost two years in service, I’ve come to realize something quite real…

My life is completely dependent upon the generosity of others.

Graduation Day - May 2009

Graduation Day – May 2009

Growing up, I remember my immediate needs were met by my parents, then eventually by friends and of course by myself as an adult; however, now counting four years that have passed since college graduation, I am relying on others to support me.

This almost seems selfish in a way. I’m college-educated, intelligent, competent, and healthy. These are traits that I could utilize to support myself.

Have I taken a step back by expecting others to care for me?

Well, no. I find humility in needing help from others. I’ll admit I’m proud. We all are. I’m taking the opportunity to let go of what I thought I needed: my car, my cell phone, material things. In letting go and trusting others, I have found simplicity, peace, freedom.

I never understood the story of the rich man who leaves everything behind to follow Jesus. How could he do that? Surely he would need something – food, perhaps, or an extra piece of clothing? No, Jesus gives him everything he needs – more than the man may have even realized. God provided for this man. He provides for me, also, through the generosity of strangers. Strangers – people I don’t even know. I may never meet these people in my lifetime, but they’ve shared their hard-earned money, time, love, advice to help me, an unknown, to have an experience of a lifetime.

“I want to move to Alaska,” I said. “I want to volunteer at a radio station.”

Photo by Joshua Cunningham

Photo by Joshua Cunningham

Someone or many someones paid for my trip from Philadelphia. I moved here with suitcases full of clothing I received from donations strangers had dropped off at my last year of service. (How funny to think their old pair of jeans traveled from Cleveland, Ohio all the way to Nome. It really is a tale of traveling pants.) I moved into a house that was built by hands of people I’ll never know, to sleep in a bed provided by someone I’ll never meet.


Our house and garage

Our house and garage


From the money in my wallet to the shoes on my feet, each item has come from another. Another’s love, kindness, sacrifice.

I suppose that’s why I’m in Alaska. I’m here to meet strangers and hear their stories. I’m here to hopefully plant seeds and maybe make a small impact in someone’s life. Someone whose face I’ll never see through the microphone. Someone I’ll never meet in a community I’ll never travel to. The cycle continues.

I am inspired, humbled by those who share so much with me. I feel called to pass on this full and open giving, paying it forward, if you will. It connects us. So, in the end, are we truly strangers ?