Tis the season of March, which invites me and others of Irish heritage to celebrate the memory of St. Patrick. Not the usual distortions of all things green, but literally a heritage. I’ve been known to sing a traditional ballad now and again. I often set aside time in March to read a bit of Irish history or literature. Options abound. This year I’m reading John O’Donohue, whose lively imagination has helped me and many others to pay attention to the little things each day in order to experience the joy of wonder. Here’s a quote that inspired pause:
One of the most exciting and energetic forms of thought is the question. I always think that the question is like a lantern. It illuminates new landscapes and new areas as it moves. Therefore the question always assumes that there are many different dimensions to a thought that you are either blind to or that are not available to you. So a question is really one of the forms in which wonder expresses itself. (p. 6)
John O’Donohue, Walking in Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for a Modern World. 2015.
The power of a question to guide us to wonder.
I experience it on a regular basis when I’m working with the generous people who support our work at the Center. I often begin conversations by asking people how they became connected with the Center in the first place. I’ve reflected on answers to that question in previous posts, but suffice it to say that a relationship was established in which the Center played a role in helping someone to find their way to hope and healing.
A follow up question regularly inspires wonder: Where did you learn to be so generous with your time, or talent, or treasure/resources? The answer often involves modeling. Donors grew up in families that valued generosity. They encountered someone whose generosity benefited them and made a difference in helping that person to find a path to success and fulfillment. They engaged in the work of an organization like the Center and saw the direct connection of supporting a mission in order to help others thrive. Lanterns illumined new landscapes and possibilities.
I encourage the community of stakeholders engaged in our work to keep these questions in mind as you’re out and about in the community. “How did you become involved in mental health issues?” (It’s a great way to fight stigma). All of us are touched in some way by these issues. There are too many tragic tales, but also inspiring narratives of healing. Don’t be afraid of the follow up question of how folks learned to be generous as they engaged an issue like mental health. My guess is you’re going to hear more inspiring answers of how one learns to be generous and engaged so as to live a fulfilled life. It’s the path to leading a life that matters and there is much work to be done.
I stand in wonder each day when I see how our work is made possible through the generosity of so many who participate in and support our mission.