By Ven. Graham Bland
Thunder Bay has a beautiful lakefront, inspired by Landscape Architect, Katherine Hope Dugmore. She died before her dream was fully realized. But her team made it happen.
Katherine would ask them: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
This question impressed me when I saw it this September, inscribed on that waterfront.
Katherine’s question is a call to action characterized by Hope – her middle name – to not allow the possibility of failure to hold us back from what calls to our hearts. Risk is unavoidable in human experience; yet, sometimes, maybe all the time, you step out in faith.
Step out and the way opens before you. Or not. It may only become clear to your children or grandchildren why you had to take that step. You take it anyway. That is why you take it. Life is given to be lived to the fullest.
Poet Dawna Markova writes:
I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid, more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
We have questions. Should I devote my energies to this? It may fail. If I give myself to that, will it bear fruit? I only have so much time. Which road should I take? There may be no turning back. Will I invest in our common human future with some of the wealth I am privileged to have?
In faith, too, even as we give our lives to God in Christ, doubts may hold us back:
Is it worth investing my life in a Church that seems to be dying? Wouldn’t my talents and skill be better employed in a community organization? Is this building, whose maintenance I pay for, serving God’s purposes?
Hard questions. Our answers to them will depend on whether we still trust in the purposes and Mission of Jesus.
Maybe our churches have lost their trust in Jesus? But what if we can help our churches to find a renewed trust in the power of the Spirit? Then, we may say: “Yes, I will give myself and my substance to this work and entrust the outcomes to God!”
Though often quoted, Margaret Mead’s words are still especially relevant for the Church in our times: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
Ven. Graham Bland is a retired priest and one-time member of the Diocese of Huron Stewardship Committee.