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Archive for January 9th, 2011
For most of us, failure feels like the cement block that is tugging us to the bottom of the lake. Is failure the last word? Does it speak a word about our life that is definitive?
J. K. Rowling — whose emergence from poverty and failure is renowned — spoke in 2008 at Harvard’s graduation with these reflections on failure:
“You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
‘Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.
“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.”
The first part of her speech can be viewed here:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb
There are too many challenges today . . . and we’re in it for the long haul. It’s no time to go alone! Life demands that we find a circle of companions — a group of friends — who’ll travel with us.
“No time,” you say? Oh, you have plenty of time! It just has to move up the priority list. You’re traveling far — so you have to travel together!
In this new Heartbeat video, Mike Cope talks about his mentally-handicapped daughter, Megan, who died at the age of ten — but whose brief life left powerful lessons with those who knew her.
Would you rather be an Olympic silver medalist or a bronze medalist? No-brainer, right? We’d rather win gold than silver; and we’d rather win silver than bronze.
But studies have shown that, on average, bronze medalists are much happier about their accomplishments than silver medalists. People who got second spend way too much time regretting how close they were to winning the gold, while those who took third think about how close they came to not medaling at all!
Life can be lived obsessing on regrets and disappointments. Or it can be lived with gratitude.
It’s relatively easy to be grateful when life unfolds just as you had hoped and planned; but the richest expressions of thanksgiving come when you can see the joy, the love, and the goodness that lie beyond disappointments.
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“Walk joyfully on the earth and respond to that of God in every human being.” George Fox
“Is it too much to say that Stop, Look, and Listen is also the most basic lesson that the Judeo-Christian tradition teaches us? . . . When Jesus comes along saying that the greatest command of all is to love God and to love our neighbor, he . . . is asking us to pay attention. If we are to love God, we must first stop, look, and listen for him in what is happening around us and inside us. If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.
“In a letter to a friend Emily Dickinson wrote that ‘Consider the lilies of the field’ was the only commandment she never broke. She could have done a lot worse. Consider the lilies. It is the sine qua non of art and religion both.”
- Frederick Buechner
Feast on these words from Shel Silverstein:
I went to find the pot of gold
That’s waiting where the rainbow ends.
I searched and searched and searched and searched
And searched and searched, and then–
There it was, deep in the grass,
Under an old and twisty bough.
It’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine at last. . . .
What do I search for now?
So often we think that there is some great destination that we’re waiting for. We find ourselves “killing time” (a horrible phrase) just waiting for that destination. We forget that it’s the journey itself that is full of life.
You can’t wait for your kids to grow up so you can have a little peace and quiet. There is the joy of the journey.
You can’t wait for retirement so you can play golf. There is the joy of the journey.
You can’t wait for your church to “do things right” so you can be happy. There is the joy of the journey.
You can’t wait for American to get back to the good old days. There is the joy of the journey.
Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion, and the Scarecrow are headed to Oz. But the heart, the courage, and the brain they need come from the journey–not from the diminutive wizard behind the curtain.
Bilbo Baggins’ walking song has it right:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
I have my eyes on an incredible destination. But the journey is filled with joy–even in the midst of pain. I don’t want to miss that joy!
What’s out there on the road for you this day? Don’t put off today waiting for Friday. Don’t blow off this week waiting for next week or this month waiting for next month or this year waiting for next year. Too many people miss life waiting for something better.
Look out today and smile at THAT spouse, THOSE kids, THAT job, THOSE friends, THAT church, THOSE neighbors.
“Laughter is carbonated holiness,” says Anne Lamott. It is effervescent, full of fizz.
A smile, a grin, or full-bodied laughter is such a gift in our super-serious world. It reminds us of friendship, of joy, of playfulness. And, it’s contagious.
Try it out today: see if you can help others break from their blank boredom or their frowning sternness.