Sunday, 30 October 2016

Fourth Quarter Thoughts

For weeks, I’ve been thinking that I need to write an answer to the blog I posted in April this year. In that blog, I wrote about dormancy – that I felt as though my life was in a dormant phase, waiting for conditions to be right so I could find answers to a question I’ve been asking myself.

This was the question:  Now that I am in the 4th quarter of this game of life, what am I supposed to be doing? What is good, and worthwhile, and meaningful and my best use of the time remaining?

Over the months of thinking about this, some things have become clearer. It helps to know I’m not the only one who thinks about these things, and that wiser heads than mine can give some advice. This week I came across a blog by Parker Palmer, which I’d like to share because he’s such a wise man and way ahead of me on this road, this adventure, called life.

You can read the blog at the website of On Being, a wonderful exploration of spiritual ideas from a wide variety of sources. Palmer’s weekly blog appears at this  address,

I’ve also reprinted it here, slightly rearranging the words.

A Shrine to Meaning
by Parker Palmer

I love this poem. It needs little commentary from me. Behind it lies a question many of us ask ourselves from time to time:

    by Leonard Nathan

    So you aren’t Tolstoy or St. Francis
    or even a well-known singer
    of popular songs and will never read Greek
    or speak French fluently,
    will never see something no one else
    has seen before through a lens
    or with the naked eye.

    You’ve been given just the one life
    in this world that matters
    and upon which every other life
    somehow depends as long as you live,
    and also given the costly gifts of hunger,
    choice, and pain with which to raise
    a modest shrine to meaning.

Given my small, ordinary, un-famous, and fleeting life, what can I do that’s of true worth and value? Then it offers an answer that I find simple, real, moving, and doable.

I re-read this poem occasionally and ask myself, “Using everything I have — including my own ‘costly gifts of hunger, choice, and pain’ — what can I do today to keep raising the ‘modest shrine to meaning’ I'd like to create with my life?”

Maybe it’s planting a tree, maybe it’s a random act of kindness to a stranger, maybe it’s offering comfort to someone who’s hurting, maybe it’s writing a thank-you letter to a mentor who saw your potential and drew it out...

There’s always something meaningful I can do to honor the gift of life in myself, others, and the world around us. Just do it!


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