6. Interpretation

One day, while driving to work, I was surprised to see a new sign staked in the yard of an old familiar house. It was a public notice posting news of the home’s imminent demolition. I was then struck to see an old man in the yard slowly raking a few leaves into a small, neat pile. Why was he raking? What was the point? The house was going to be demolished; it seemed so pointless.

Obviously, the old man’s interpretation of the task was vastly different from mine. I began to imagine just what his thoughts must have been. To him raking the leaves must have been terribly meaningful. My mind, though, kept thinking of the seeming senselessness of the chore. But maybe he felt a special significance in his role as the property’s owner and steward and that until the end he’d continue on as he’d been doing for years. Or possibly this was his daily exercise and his opportunity to be outdoors on a nice autumn day. Whatever the case I knew just then that I wanted to possess this old man’s perspective. I wanted to think like him — to find beauty and purpose in my life even in view of such as an imminent demolition.

Day 6 Guide:

Today consider the various roles you play. Maybe you’re a teacher influencing the minds of young people or a parent who loves his or her children. Maybe you’re a warehouse worker packing boxes in a shipping department or a receptionist answering telephones. Think of the small things associated with the roles you play and make the effort to find in them their significance and their beauty. Maybe it’s in your tone of voice on the telephone or that little bit of extra help you give the struggling student. It could be in the way that you package or label items in a shipping box or in that thousandth little hug that you give your child before he gets on the school bus. Think of the things that on the surface may not really seem to matter and then elevate their rankings in your mind.

Today, I want you to think that that thousandth little hug is, in fact, the most important one and that your tone of voice on the phone is helping to alter someone’s life. I want you to think that the opinion of a person opening your package and finding things neatly ordered and arranged is the opinion that will influence the course of future business.

“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”

— Mother Theresa (1910-1997)

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