“Many people have the wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” – Helen Keller
Why am I here? What’s my purpose? How can I find true meaning and happiness in life?
These are some of the most frequently searched questions on the internet (and on our hearts) today.
As a speaker, I meet presenters, authors and experts all over the world who teach how to best answer these questions. However, one of the finest examples I ever met wasn’t at a conference, but rather at a funeral.
This is her story.
I learned of the passing of Sr. James Lorene Hogan. Although I’d only met her three times, at each encounter she made a dramatic impact on me. She was also the aunt of a dear friend of mine, Patrick Barry, so I went to the service to support him and his family and to honor a wonderful woman.
When I walked into the chapel last Monday my breath was taken away by the crowds of people gathered and sounds of celebration. This wasn’t the quiet hum of friends supporting each other and mourning the passing of an elderly friend. Instead this was a party; gathered to rejoice in the life of a friend who so beautifully celebrated living in each of her 90 years.
She joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1942 when she was 18. Her first assignment was to teach a roomful of 22 deaf children; although she’d never before met a deaf person.
She became a world-renown expert over her next five decades of education. Her goal was to teach little ones who could not hear how to read, speak and thrive in life. A master at making the extraordinarily complicated, simple, Aunt Pat (as her family affectionately called her) explained that she “just taught them to hear through their eyes.”
‘Retiring’ in 1994, she’ began a thrift store in an impoverished neighborhood. It was a community so blighted that I’d be nervous driving through in the daylight. But Aunt Pat would frequently arrive before sunrise, work throughout the day and leave after sunset. She never questioned her safety, remaining totally focused on serving.
The characteristic all three people who eulogized Aunt Pat used to describe her was ‘fidelity.’ Fidelity is faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.
This month as the Rising Above community, we focus on choosing accountability. My friends, the challenge is to become the individual, the family and the organization that keeps your promises and lives up to the fullness of your potential. [Tweet this.]
It’s a topic worthy of reading about from experts and listening to from speakers. They’ll share world-class examples from research and history that model it.
But in the simple life of a nun who taught the deaf, served the poor, loved her family and remained faithful to her God, comes perhaps the finest example. A frail lady, full of opinions, always in action and singing so loudly that we can all hear what constitutes true happiness. Her song reminds us that success is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose bigger than ourselves.
Today, let your song be heard.
What is the purpose bigger than yourself that you are living, fighting and working for today? Please share in the comments below.
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