What does it look like to live a life of Love?
This is one of the most important questions that I can think of. It’s a question that keeps popping up for me. Repeatedly.
Most recently, I found this question nudging my heart while reading my friend Rachel Pieh Jones’s book Stronger than Death: How Annalena Tonelli Defied Terror and Tuberculosis in the Horn of Africa.
Annalena “is one of those people you meet . . . who change your life in some way.”
Her story is compelling and challenging. To me, Annalena is a hero. She lived a life of purpose. Her love was big, radical, practical, and sacrificial.
Annalena was an Italian woman who was the first person to develop a successful way of treating TB in nomadic populations. She lived among nomadic Somali people in Kenya, Somalia, and Somaliland for 34 years. She didn’t just serve the poor. She lived in solidarity with the poor. She faced war, hunger, and disease with them. She gave up her life for them.
Annalena reminded me of the mystics, like St. Francis and Catherine of Siena. She reminds me of Dorothy Day and Mother Theresa. She reminds me of Jesus.
People like Annalena challenge me. I am not like Annalena.
Am I supposed to be like Annalena?
Or am I supposed to be Jess and love in the ways I’ve been created to love? What does that look like? What in my life is an obstacle to giving and receiving Love? What does it mean for me to live with humility? To love mercy? To Love with the life that is mine?
These are big questions.
It’s easy to point fingers, to see problems. It’s easy to feel inadequate and sink into complacency. True answers are hard to come by.
But there is growth and life and transformation in wrestling with big questions. Annalena’s life and story invite us to wrestle with these questions. She invites us to open our hearts wider. She invites us to Love, here and now in the lives we choose.
Stronger than Death comes out October 1. I’m excited for you to read it. It’s really good.
Watch the book trailer to find out a little more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=bykMjQY9-VY