In my youth I didn't always feel that life was a gift. In fact, even after finding a faith, the saying, 'Life is a gift', has been problematic for me.
Recently I had the privilege of living in Cambodia. There, with the legacy of the Pol Pot regime, I found myself asking, 'If my legs were blown off by a landmine, would life still be a gift?' Trite as it may sound from a Westerner-unlikely-to-have-her-legs-blown-off-by-a-landmine, my answer had to be 'Yes'. This is because of my (perhaps naïve) belief that God's love never ends; and that 'underneath are the everlasting arms'.
This was not an easy answer to arrive at. I also recognize my need for the answer to be 'Yes': a) to stay sane; and b) to keep striving to make a difference, which is what this magazine is all about.
This issue features disabled people overcoming their difficulties in an incredible way. Few can fail to be impressed and inspired by the two paralysed men who, against all the odds, have founded a community for disabled youth in Tamil Nadu, India. The same is true of the African artist on the front cover, who conducts workshops for the young and old, at home and abroad.
These three men not only have their own disabilities to contend with but also the obvious challenges that go with living in the Third World. They teach me just how lucky I am; and their stories remind me of the responsibility I have to serve others, and in so doing become the person I am meant to be.
Last Christmas a new word entered the vocabulary of millions-tsunami. It ushered in, in an unforgettable way, 'the year of the natural disaster'. Now, with the very real threat of bird-flu, people are wondering whether 2006 will be 'the year of the pandemic'. But, whatever happens, it could be experienced as 'the year of the miracle'. That will depend on the daily choice of each one to see the gifts, so easily overlooked, in us and around us. 'Whenever you see darkness,' encourages U2 singer Bono, 'there is extraordinary opportunity for the light to burn brighter.'