Sunday, September 28, 2008

Doing Things Right the First Time

This weekend, I started a new phase in my life as I began formally studying theology at Queen's College. It is an exciting time for me as my life continues to morph, as Bob Buford describes, from success to significance, migrating from being just a Wall Streeter to something else as yet defined.

Two of my new friends that I met in class this week are a senior pastor and his wife from a local evangelical church. They honored my family with an invitation to attend their worship services this week, which we gratefully accepted.

Pastor Milley gave a powerful sermon on encouragement and in the course of doing so, quoted a poem by Louise Fletcher Tarkington entitled "The Land of Beginning Again". His message and the specific quote were so powerful that I had to go find the poem and read it in its entirety.

The poem is a powerful piece that speaks to the importance of doing the best that we can at all times and not relying on opportunity to "make things right" after we nonchalantly choose poorly in our initial interactions with others. This poem also reminds us to be grateful for all that we have and that when we look back upon times of struggle, we will see much to be grateful for, even if we didn't see it then.

I am including the poem in this blog post. As you read it, I ask you to reflect on your own life and ask yourself - "Am I doing the best possible job right now with the gifts I have been given?" If you are like me, no matter how hard you try, there is room for improvement. When one thinks of the classic elements of stewardship: time, talent and treasure, ask yourself if you are using these gifts for maximum impact or are you grumbling that others are not making a difference fast enough for your liking. Why wait for others when you could be making a difference right now?

If we want to expedite making a difference in this great world, perhaps we need to do it ourselves and inspire others to act, rather than just wait for someone to step up (all the while disappointing us with their delayed action when we have no right to be disappointed).

Think about how you might begin this process of improvement right now as you contemplate this beautiful piece.

Yours in service and servanthood.


The Land of Beginning Again

I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all of our selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat by the door
And never be put on again.

I wish we could come on it all unaware
Like the hunter who finds a lost trail
And I wish that the one whom our blindness has done
The greatest injustice of all
Could be at the gates like an old friend that waits
For the comrade he's gladdest to hail.

We would find all the things we intended to do
But forgot, and remembered too late;
Little praises unspoken, little promises broken
And all of the thousand and one
Little duties neglected that might have perfected
The day for one less fortunate.

It wouldn't be possible not to be kind
In the Land of Beginning Again
And the ones we misjudged and the ones whom we grudged
Their moments of victory then
Would find in the grasp of our loving handclasp
More than penitent lips could explain.

For what had been hardest we'd know had been best
And what had seemed loss would be gain
For there isn't a sting that will not take a wing
When we've faced it and laughed it away,
And I think that the laughter is most what we're after
In the Land of Beginning Again.

So I wish that there were some wondered place
Called the Land of Beginning Again
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all of our selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door

And never be put on again.

Louise Fletcher Tarkington

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How Will You Remember Me .....

.... and how will I remember you?

When our end of days has come, will we remember each other:

  • for having given our best for our families, providing for their current and future needs as best as we can?
  • for taking care of ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, knowing that many people rely on us (including many we will never meet)?
  • for having gone above and beyond for our employers (or our own companies if we are at the top)?
  • for doing our best to empower our employees and professional peers, enabling them to plug their passion, purpose, skills, strengths and talents into their work, to produce the best result possible?
  • for accepting that we all make mistakes?

Will we applaud each other:

  • for being role models for our greatest investment of all - our children?
  • for investing in our community, our state or province and our country, taking responsibility for the good and the bad and working together to fix that which needs fixing while enhancing that which is already great?
  • for seeing the positive in everyone?
  • for making a difference in this world, for those who are starving, thirsty, sick, impoverished, destitute, homeless or challenged in other ways?
  • for taking care of those we don't know and may never meet?
  • for random acts of kindness, the kind that inspire others to make a difference?
  • for keeping the Earth in mind as we do what we can to take care of the miraculous life raft that carries us through this incredible universe?

Will we think fondly of each other:

  • for doing our best to keep our outlook on life (and the outlook of others) on the positive side, especially when times get tough?
  • for reaching out to someone, not only when they need it but often times in anticipation that they would appreciate some unrequested support?
  • for doing our best to love everyone, even those that anger us, drive us crazy or disappoint us (recognizing that we do the same to others)?
  • for filling our days with positive action to make a difference and not just wishful thinking that we will get to it someday?
  • for dropping a coin in the cup of a beggar, someone who may be a descendant of yours or mine?
  • for going for the brass ring, seizing a life of excitement, challenge, risk and fulfillment and not just a life of indifference and unrealized dreams?

Will we be proud of each other:

  • for being who we want to be and not what others want us to be?
  • for being brave and courageous in our quest to find and fulfill our purpose and passion on Earth?
  • for taking a stand for what we believe to be right?
  • for standing firm in our faith and our beliefs, no matter what the odds?
  • for being known as someone that could always be counted on?
  • for being the person who always brought sunshine into someone's day instead of darkness?
  • for living a life of humility and service to others?

Will we support each other:

  • for being the cheerleader who always encouraged others to be and do the best that they can?
  • for laughing loudly(and often)?
  • for crying when we need to and not being embarrassed by it?
  • for promoting a sense of urgency around appreciating everything that Life offers?
  • For cutting people a little slack when we see they are doing their best?
  • For providing guidance when people could use a little direction?
  • for loving ourselves and recognizing that we are a product of our genetics, our life experiences, our faith, our calling and God's Purpose for us - we are living miracles who are to love and be loved unconditionally?
  • for not being afraid to say "I love you" to anyone and mean it?

Will we be grateful for ourselves, for others and for the incredible experiences of Life (instead of judging Life as a collection of good and bad)?

The game of Life is the one game where no one gets out alive.

At some point, one of us will stand before a memorial to the other.

How are you being remembered?


"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love." - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NKJV)