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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Ordinary Heroes: Embrace Daily Wonder

by Marilynn Chadwick Sometimes an ordinary person assumes hero proportions only after we hear their story. Such was the case with one of my seminary classmates. From our cohort’s introductions, I learned this man, whom I’ll call Ahn Wok, was a neurosurgeon. Impressive enough. He was lighthearted with a quick wit and a kind manner. During one class, he shared how he had escaped Vietnam on a boat during the war. It was only then I realized he was one of the famed, freedom-seeking “boat people” who endured harrowing dangers as they fled their nation’s communist takeover. Thousands of Vietnamese fled their country by sea following the collapse of the South Vietnamese government in 1975. What’s more, he and his mother watched in horror as Ahn Wok’s father and sister were pushed out of the overcrowded boat and left behind. Ahn Wok’s family was finally reunited, but only after twelve years of separation and long stretches spent in refugee camps in Indonesia and finally America. He loved America and he was deeply grateful for his freedom. Now married with three children, Ahn Wok had become a highly respected neurosurgeon whose deep Christian faith inspired him to seek a seminary education in addition to his multiple medical specialty degrees. For one assignment in our Spiritual Formation class, we were instructed to practice “Sabbath moments” as a daily spiritual discipline. Ahn Wok’s words challenged me to see my life with new eyes. I hope the words he shared with our class will similarly inspire you to approach your own days with a sense of awe and wonder, even gratitude: “For me, I found throughout the week that Sabbath moments give us time to rest and be closer to God. My day usually starts around 5am with a peaceful reading and studying of the Bible. This is a mini-Sabbath that sets the stage for the rest of my day. As I reflected on what it means to have opportunities to rest and commune with God, I realized my 'Sabbath moments' are often experienced during surgery. Those are the times when I get to rest and feel closest to God. I am away from the world, unreachable by phone or text. Through the lens of the operating microscope, I am transported into God’s world within the body. I am mesmerized by all the unfathomable beauty that God has created within each of us. From the 5mm strand of optic nerve that meanders through the optic canal into the brain allowing us to see the magnificent world, to the wisps of nerve roots that allow us to wiggle our big toes, it is an awe-inspiring view each and every time. I am very thankful to experience ‘Sabbath moments’ in the Operating Room every week.” Why not begin today to explore ways to keep watch for the tiny wonders of your daily life? Go for a walk. Watch the sky. Play with your children. Whatever you do, draw from the example of Ahn Wok, a man who knows what it means to lose one’s freedom—and to get it back.

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