Friday, August 12, 2005

"Either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing"

I have been reluctant to succumb to the "blog" craze for any number of reasons ... one more "thing" in my life to manage ... fear of too much personal self-disclousre to an unsuspecting public ... but the main reason is best summarized in Benjamin Franklin quote titling this initial foray into the world of blog. Franklin's full ditty: "If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing."

So, it would seem, there are at least two choices: (a) write skillfully with careful craft or (b) live intentionally with distinctive choices. A third choice, too, would be some combination of the two. And perhaps that's what this blog site will become, a journey of mind and heart.

And so, here is the question I toy with today: "Does life find us or we do we find life?"

I have been struck by portions of Stephen R. Covey's "The Eighth Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness," in which he says: "I really do believe that when we are born, our work is born with us and we have to find out what that is." He goes on to speak of "finding our voice" as the Eighth Habit. "When you engage in work that taps your talent and fuels your passion -- that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet -- therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul's code. There is a deep, innate, almost inexpressible yearning within each of us to find our voice in life."

While I have not read his complete work, Covey causes me to ask some questions about life and the "voice" of call. I wonder to what extent any of us listen to others' voices when it comes to discerning our paths in life? In what ways do our own needs and yearnings become replaced with what we see in others around us? How do we sublimate the rich depth of the Other (as distinguished from the "others") in our individual quests for satisfaction, meaning and peace?

How is it that we "find our voice" to quote Covey? While I cannot speak for Covey, I know that for me I am learning that finding my voice has virtually nothing to do with the external tasks of my life. Externally I am a husband, a father, a pastor. With those roles there come certain "external" expectations. I need to find time to be engaged meaningfully with my spouse. I choose to spend time and money and to invest emotionally in my children even if I see few prospects of reciprocity. (I am told that reciprocity comes down the road, but I must confess moments of disbelief). Externally my pastoral role requires consistency, competency and integrity.

But it is my internal life that really matters. Most of us can manage the external life fairly well. We understand the expectations and discipline ourselves or find ways to hide enough to make it appear that we are what we need to be. The heart of the matter, however, is what happens internally. Finding our voice is an internal quest, a consistent pattern of reflection and nurture that gives us the integrity of merging the external and internal into something that seems to ourselves and others as "real."

"Do things worth writing the writing" is a call to integrate our internal and external lives in a way that gives our voice confidence and authority.

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