One of the most fascinating aspects of being a dad has been watching our girls grow into their own persons and launch on their own paths. Seeds of passion that subtly presented themselves in childhood slowly and beautifully bloom as they step out on their own journey as adults. Having survived the weedy entanglements of adolescence and the arid plain of academia, you begin to see the person they are becoming blossom in amazing ways.
Taylor has always had the heart of an artist. It never presented itself in any kind of clearly focused way when she was young, but it was unmistakably there. When she was deciding on courses of study for college it was always in the background. Her choice was always [fill in the blank] and Art Therapy. My personal favorite combination was Archaeology and Art Therapy. The playwright in me conjured a comical sketch of her sitting with a troubled soul showing them pictures of cave drawings and hieroglyphs. Eventually, she abandoned the various and sundry choices for a primary course of study and stuck with the one constant: Art Therapy.
During her teen years, another seed of passion emerged for Taylor. Becoming aware of the larger world, she would come home from high school with books and dinner time stories of tragic conflicts in Africa. I watched as the unfathomable horror stories of child soldiers in nations like Uganda branded themselves on Taylor’s tender heart. Slowly I began to realize that my meek daughter, the tender artist and healer, was developing a steely passion for helping others and for the world.
Then a boy named Clayton came along. Wendy and I knew that these two young people were going to end up together. We saw it from the beginning. I think every dad feels that unmistakable, gut-wrenching moment when you realize your little girl’s eyes and heart have shifted focus to another man. Not just the wandering glance of infatuation or the unadvisable day-trips of misguided lust, but the unmistakable “this is the man who is taking your place” moment. I saw it happening before my very eyes. Clayton, the passionate African Studies major and Taylor, the Art Therapist wannabe (foregoing her first year of college to work with handicapped children in Morocco) shocked everyone by choosing to get married far younger than seems wise or culturally acceptable in today’s world. They both had a lot of growing up to do. I’m convinced they were supposed to do it together.
It was last fall when Taylor and Clayton began mentioning a group called Child Voice and a place called Lukodi. Lukodi is a village in Uganda. A few years ago the town was ravaged by the unspeakable atrocities of an evil thug named Kony and his followers, profanely dubbed the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Children were forced to kill their own parents. Little girls were raped, forced to be “brides,” and impregnated. Let’s just say that this post can’t contain the volume of horror thrust upon the people of that small village. In the terrible social aftermath, a group called Child Voice is trying to bring healing and redemption to the survivors and to the town. Taylor and Clayton applied for a summer internship to help in the efforts.
And so, the picture of who our daughter is becoming continues to come into focus. The young girl with the heart of an artist, burdened by the plight of child soldiers is going to Uganda. She will put her Art Therapy studies to work to help and to heal, to love and to learn from victims of suffering that is incomprehensible in our everyday context. Clayton, her husband and partner in passion, is by her side. As happens with work in the third world, their itinerary seems to be changing from day to day. Nevertheless, the two of them are flying out of Chicago today. As I’ve told them many times, I couldn’t be more proud.
It seems like everyday I read or hear stories about disenchanted, entitled, and self-seeking young adults who are aimlessly struggling to find gainful employment and meaningful existence. I’m so grateful for children with passion, talent, faith, love and purpose who are actively doing something to make a positive difference in this world. As I’ve tried to constantly tell them, I couldn’t be more proud.
You can follow their story and their adventures at http://boeyinksinuganda.wordpress.com.