We struck up a conversation while standing in line for coffee. I noticed a rare radiance and enthusiasm about her and did a double take when she told me her name, Genesis Lightbourne.
One of the best known lines of Scripture is found in Genesis 1:3: “Let there be light.” Genesis was working with disabled people, helping them to succeed at sports. She loved them and loved her job. She was also quite rapt when learning about The Virtues Project, and I mentioned that I had been interviewed for an on-line site called “Light Makers”, and suggested that she would be a good person for them to feature.
I know a young Cook Islander who is a natural at counseling. People turn to her when they are suffering, knowing she will listen with compassion and understanding. She isn’t “trained” as a counselor, but she has a peaceful, loving presence, which is a gift that can’t be taught. She’s a living example of Sufi poet Rumi’s beautiful words: “Be a lamp, or a ladder, or a lighthouse. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” She helps them to find light in their darkness.
Mathew 5:15 says, “Let your light so shine before men that they shall see your good works and honour your father who is in Heaven.”
As a teacher and mentor, my hope and my purpose is to ignite the light – the special spark, that each student has within him or her. We are all gifted and able. Each of us has a special measure of virtues, some being more gifted in compassion, others in creativity, others in strength and perseverance. These virtues are the Creator’s gift to us. What we do with them is our gift to the Creator.
There are three virtues that can light the way on our particular path. First, one of the ways to discover our gifts and talents, at any age, is to follow our joy. What gives us happiness? In what acts of service or expressions of talent are we willing and eager to invest our excellence? Is it in sports, or sailing, or writing, or helping, or caring for a child? Do we find ourselves full of exciting ideas for a business? Nothing is more depressing than being trapped in a job that uses none of our giftedness. The boredom can be soul-destroying. There are always other choices if we are willing to seek them out.
Secondly, once we find a path to take, we need the self-discipline to master it. Whether a physical activity or a mental one, fitness comes from practice. We start doing it and keep doing it until we gain excellence. With education, training, and practice, we will be unstoppable.
The third virtue we need is perseverance – the will to keep on keeping on. Set goals and reach them. Then set higher goals.
When we discern our natural joy, use self-discipline to grow in competence, and persevere to meet our goals, great success and happiness will come.
As Rumi says, “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”