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ajeterThe verse before the gospel today was encouraging. From Paul’s letter to the Philippians, it urges us to shine like lights in the world as you hold on to the word of life. (2:15D, 16A) Thinking about my day yesterday with a group of parish faith formation leaders, some of whom who are wrapping up a challenging year in their churches, I was happy to reflect on their willingness to live in the reality of their experiences while still fanning the flame of hope in their hearts. The day was not an intensive, content-heavy experience but rather offered them some simple practices for everyday life that also included a brief nature walk and some poetry. The important element, as I saw it, was simply their presence together in community with no expectations except the support of one another. It was clear to me that they are, indeed, “lights in the world.”

I found the same spirit in Alan Cohen’s thought for June 16th in his book, A Deep Breath of Life. He was talking about baseball and how a batting average of .250 was a good predictor of a solid career if the player was also a decent fielder. In contrast, a player with a .300 batting average is a star. He pointed out that the difference between these two was one hit out of 20 times at bat. His reflection on that “margin of greatness” was the following.

Sometimes just a little effort is all we need to put us over the edge to huge success. In your career, family, or spiritual path try to stretch beyond your perceived limits. A little extra patience with a customer could make her a lifetime client and bring you her friends’ business. A seminar participant told me that she signed up for an intensive workshop simply because I had responded to a letter she had written me. An extra kind touch, one more deep breath, or a willingness to listen could make the difference between a modest salary and a million-dollar contract, or a life of mere survival and a glorious adventure.

I doubt that any of the people sitting in front of me yesterday will ever be a multi-millionaire, but I have a hunch that, in the end, they all have a good chance of looking back on their lives as a blessing – and maybe even a great and glorious adventure.