Rescue Missions

I am lifted up by true stories about the human capacity for survival when facing knee-buckling odds.

I suppose one of the finest examples is the story of explorer Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 expedition to the Antarctic when the ship became trapped in ice and he and his men were 1200 miles away from civilization and how Shackleton, and five others, traveled 800 miles in brutal conditions to get help and return to rescue the entire crew; not one person died.

And then, of course, there are the stories that don’t get the headlines. I encounter these stories every week, in person. I spend time with men and women who have been through forms of trauma that boggle the mind and, if you are paying attention, make you realize that when you are with them, you are among beacons of courage in the truest sense of the word.

Many of us, in one way or another, have been on rescue missions, emotionally, spiritually and, yes, physically. Sometimes we are seeking to rescue ourselves from the debilitating grasp of our personal histories, sometimes we are trying to pull ourselves free from some act of violence, trauma that continues to impede our right to fully live as who we are, and sometimes we are trying to rescue others, sometimes people we know, sometimes people we don’t know.

It is a wonderful and uplifting experience when I see men and women and young people, children, discover that what may feel impossible is not impossible, that feeling hopeless does not mean there is no hope.

And then there are those special moments. Moments when the shackles of history give way and people break into the open, discovering, finally and beautifully, that they have a right to be who they are in life. Those moments, if you see them and breathe them in and digest them fully, that will provide fuel for your rescue missions to come.