Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What makes it matter

It could be a difficult performance, a special meal with guests, a highly anticipated holiday gathering, a sermon, a lesson taught, or even a final exam. So many events charge at us with growing speed only to shoot by in a blur, leaving us dejected and wondering if all the energy spent was worth it. Ninety-nine percent of the ordeal was in the preparing. Then in an instant it is over.

After the notes have been played and heard, the meal prepared and eaten, the company enjoyed, the sermon preached, the lesson finished, and the exam passed, we wonder what of lasting value was accomplished? What made it matter? Each of these are temporal. If our emphasis is on these, we are left only with a heavy sense of emptiness at the end.

What gives value to a performance is how it affects the listeners, the amount of growth that took place in the preparation, and the communication that flows from composer to performer to audience. Something more than notes should happen. The student is molded by who the teacher is as a person, as much as what he imparts. People and their lives matter more.

The food prepared likewise is about the people. There is labor to please and satisfy with a good meal. Having company is worth the effort when the goal is learning about them. Conversation is not all about us, but a deepening of friendships. The sermon will leave its mark on the hearers, but much more so when the one sharing it delights in his congregation. The value of the exam is the discipline in studying, and that which is learned and able to be applied.

Maybe our post-event let-down can be lessened if we begin by preparing to focus primarily on the people and that which lasts beyond the event. Things will quickly pass, but the people and things learned will last.

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