I have had a life-long love affair -- with National Geographic. Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved poring over those glossy pictures and imagining the thousands of adventures that hide between the pages. I have also never had a subscription to National Geographic. My ninety-six year old grandfather does, and he passes his copies on to me. When I was younger, this bothered me; I wanted my OWN. But now, I like that connection we have had since I was a little girl. (Back in the 1930's, Grandpa had the opportunity to buy a lifetime subscription for $150. That was a lot of money during the Depression for a farmer/carpenter, so he wasn't able to take the deal. National Geographic sure would have been the losers!)
One of my most favorite recent articles is "Pakistan" from the September 2007 issue. Not only did this article offer a fascinating and succinct history of the country, but it profiled a man from Karachi named Edhi who runs a charity that helps children, women and the extremely poor. He has a crib in the street outside of his office door with a sign that says "Don't Kill Your Baby" where he receives about ninety infants a month. Edhi also scours the streets for the dead and dying so that he can offer a dignified death and burial. Imagine a city where human life is so devalued that dead poor people are just left in the gutters! He refuses to accept donations from organizations or government sources as he wants to be beholden to no one, but his most poignant quote was about not even accepting car rides from anyone. "I travel by ambulance, in case someone needs help along the way."
I thought that this was a beautiful picture of how we should travel through life -- as if in an ambulance looking for people who need help along the way. And it reminded me of what Jesus once said when people were grumbling that he hung around with the "wrong" kind of people, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17)