I have knocked about this planet since 1948, when my mother felt a compelling
need to share me with the world as David T. Borton. My life went fine
until my first of many existential
crises - -
Elementary School. There, in a
class of 31 students, I was one of five David’s.
Identity crisis smacked me right in the face. At age 5, I knew I needed a way to
be different and I have been about that task ever since. I blame the mothers of
all those other David’s for my inability to follow routine.
Home was Western New York, within a German-Lutheran family where work and
responsibility were at the core of our purpose. Life was serious.
Shoveling snow -- next to godliness. Memorizing Martin Luther’s
Small Catechism verbatim was part and parcel of salvation. My academic
career went along fine although I rarely applied myself. I saved myself
for baseball. I played tons and tons of it. I had a deadly arm from
the outfield but struggled at the plate. The curve ball gave me real
grief. Underneath that flip response, quick-witted
remark, and smirk was a kid in search of something; just didn’t know what that was.
I left home at 18 to attend college, never really looking back. I only
return to visit my Mom, elder brother, younger sister, and their families (Dad
died in '89). At college, too many mid-week beer parties and the Viet
Nam war interrupted my education. Wars do that. Uncle Sam
had my number; the draft was still in place. When I received my draft
notice, I thought about appealing to our draft board - - for about 3
seconds. Our draft board resembled an octogenarian convention of
the Daughters of the American Revolution. So into the green machine I
went for four very long years.
I came out of that war in one piece but returned from overseas a much more
reflective young man, not quite as sure of so many things. We had lost several
flight crewmembers and those deaths turned my world and belief system upside
down. I went overseas believing
in what we were doing and came home very embittered. I felt duped.
Enough. I got out and never looked back.
Education Comes thru Books and Sidewalks
Upon discharge, I re-entered college on the GI bill, earning a business degree
from Florida Atlantic University. Why business? By default. I didn’t have a
clue what I wanted to do with my life. Later on in my business career, I
received a Master of Theological Studies from Trinity Lutheran Seminary. Both were good
experiences and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend
post-secondary schools. Formal education has served me well. But
most of my deepest
learnings have come from others.
In 1988, I had the delight of visiting Guatemala with
Alfalit is an NGO throughout Central America, working to improve lives of
people, one small group at a time. It was an experience of a lifetime
and one that has changed me forever.
Jorge Colindres Monzón, of Mayan ancestry, was our host. Jorge was (RIP
Presbyterian minister and one who took
his faith very seriously. Oh, not the obsession with the Jesus
quiz - - ‘Is he your personal Lord and
Savior?' - - but much more rooted and grounded in the compassionate, caring, life-giving, healing and prophetic Jesus you find in the Gospel of
Jorge taught me so much about my own faith, as he whisked us all over the
western highlands of Guatemala, visiting with Christian small-base
communities. Each community strived for its own improvement; be it literacy,
cooperative farming, sewing cooperatives, weaving, etc. Within each setting, I saw the
Christian faith lived out to its fullest.
I have been back to Central America many times since. I am hooked. It has a tremendous draw
for me. Life is on the edge yet people seem more present to one another.
Poverty collectively grinds at their bones but they remain open to a tomorrow – a
tomorrow I am not sure how well I would face.
(cont'd on pg. 2)
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