"Serving people always takes priority over selfish ambition."
Those are the words of Tony, written on his list of personal goals. I was reminded of them yesterday as I reflected on our Day of Service in honor of his birthday.
I must admit that I actually made it the entire day without any tears. I wondered if that was okay. Shouldn't I be sad, shouldn't I be a mess, because I'm celebrating his birthday without him?
My mom comforted me with her words..."maybe because the day was such a reflection of Tony's spirit, it brought you joy and happiness instead of tears."
And a true reflection, the day certainly was.
About 40 of us gathered that morning at City of Refuge, despite the freezing temperatures. Bruce, the Executive Director, painted an inspiring picture of the vision and mission of this organization Tony believed in- to provide life-changing services for the lost, the last and the least in Atlanta. We went on a brief tour of the facility and then divided into groups to sort food and scrub a large section of concrete flooring.
Yes, that is what we did. We sorted food donations into boxes. These boxes are all some families have to eat for an entire month. For some, it is their Christmas "feast."
The floor that was scrubbed will soon be stained and sealed. Tuesday it will hold hundreds beds for homeless women and children in need of emergency shelter from the cold.
Sure, our work wasn't glamorous. It certainly wasn't your typical birthday celebration.
But we practiced what Tony so strongly sought after in his own life. We practiced prioritizing service over selfish ambition.
And God met us there. He even told us "hi." As we finished up serving, snowflakes began to fall. That is surely a rarity this time of year in Atlanta.
Tony's birthday wish is now complete. And I am truly grateful to the friends and family who gave of themselves to make it possible.