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

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