My Life's Work
What Remains Behind You?
Life is full of mysteries. One of those mysteries, the one that seems to compel much of our ambition and work in life, is hidden in our desire to live a meaningful life. I think God designed us with it but left it up to us to find it. Defining what that means drives us into careers, marriages, family and personal relationships of all kinds. Sometimes it can be and often is, disastrous. Other times, 'it's all good' as we're fond of saying these days.
I had a friend, Bryan, who taught me a lot of things about life without ever intending to teach me anything. I could write volumes about the things I learned from this man. He was much younger than myself but he had wisdom beyond his years. No, his life wasn't perfect and by most standards of measure, he probably wasn't even successful. Until, you find the right way to measure success.
Bryan was a brilliant machine technician in the days of mechanical/electric typewriters and early copy machines. He was an accomplished carpenter with knowledge and skills the likes of which I've never seen. When Bryan built something, only a fire or natural disaster could destroy it. And it was all in the details. But Bryan, like all of us, had his faults.
At times, his wonderful wife and child would have to pay the price for Bryan's devotion to his friends and the many challenges he would undertake. Truth is I have a lot of that in me too so it's easy for me to recognize. He loved and cherished them both dearly but found nagging conflict in his life because he had difficulty balancing his personal life with his work life. I actually don't think he succeeded at it very often but his family knew the depth of his love for them without question.
His temper was kept on a short leash. He put it on himself. Sometimes the leash would break and it was not a pleasant time to be around when it did. He wore frustration on his sleeve. When he worked with other people, it was difficult sometimes, to conceal his emotions so that constructive leadership could take place. But leadership was also one of his best qualities.
Bryan instinctively knew how to do just about anything. That was his gift from God, his genius. He had the gift of helps and the gift of being able to teach. Great gifts to have but also, often very consuming. I hired him to manage a crew of seven to fourteen employees in a national graphics operation I managed. I watched in utter amazement as he turned a motley crew into a finely tuned and adaptable machine in a couple of months. He knew every personality, every strength and every weakness of each person on the team. He could bring out the very best in each one. He could make deadlines look easy that would have crushed other teams. He was an encourager and motivator beyond compare. And he gave it all to make it happen, every ounce of knowledge, wisdom and love he lavished upon the crew until they just couldn't help themselves and always gave it their best. What he really gave away without measure and without cost was his immense love. He had something of Jesus in him that most of may never know in ourselves. And Jesus was the light of his life. He was so passionate about the character of Christ that it nearly consumed his every waking moment. The good that came from that was astounding.
My friend died a painful, untimely death at age 47. I can't explain it and my own family will not understand when I say that Bryan's death caused me the greatest grief I have ever known. I wrote this poem for him and read it at his memorial service. It was the toughest reading of my life.
My Life’s Work
Not much to show for my life’s work things done with these two hands
Then comes the thought ‘what will endure’ when I depart this land?
Will bricks and mortar, glass and steel, they’ve come and gone before
Will music, art and poetry, perhaps but I’m not sure.
Then what is there that I can give, the reason I am here?
As I grow older, looking back, the answer unfolds clear.
The things I’ve made while on this earth to serve my fellow man
With age decay and falter, weak, till they no longer can.
But this I’ve learned, when love abounds comes joy and happiness
My love I give to you my friend, to you I give my best.
So take this gift and pass it on, to give is to receive
And worry not of short supply, for love, is love, indeed.
Scott Adie © 2012
Dedicated to Bryan Malone