Would you consider joining me--whether regularly or occasionally--on Tuesdays for a special writing assignment? I'm calling it Tribute Tuesday…and look, I even made a button for it!
Isn't it pretty? Hard to believe such an amateur as I took it…but I did! As a fun aside, 600 million bajillion brownie points to the person who can identify the background behind the vase.
Tribute Tuesday is an idea that came to mind as a way to stay in the "attitude of gratitude." Usually, when I count my blessings, my mind goes to material things (house, food, car) or concepts (family, health, liberty, faith). Obviously, there's nothing wrong with being thankful for things or concepts, but I believe there is great value in being thankful for specific people. I find that the more I take time to think about why I'm thankful for a person, the more my gratitude and appreciation for them increases. As St. Paul encouraged the believers in the church at Philippi, "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, dwell on these things." (Philippians 4:8) I love that translation, to "dwell on these things." God knows my mind often veers off into dwelling on the not-so-lovely, excellent, or praiseworthy things. There are so many people who have been important influences in my life. Lately, God has brought them to mind, one by one, and sometimes they surprise me with their specificity and their ordinariness. My 8th grade Social Studies teacher, Mr. Snodgrass, is not exactly a celebrity. Even within my school where he taught (he has long since retired and gone on to enjoy many days free of 8th graders), he was not one of the popular teachers that students loved. I don't know that anyone hated him, but I think most kids didn't have a strong opinion about him one way or another (except maybe that he was boring, which many a young teen treats as a black mark on a teacher's character). Yet, with all of his quiet reserve and his circumspection, he made a very real impact on me, and wholly for the better.
But I am getting ahead of myself! The point is that I want to take time to ponder, to dwell on these people who have helped make me who I am in these first 30 years of my life, and to recognize them publicly for it. Will you join me in dwelling on the people who have been influential in your life, and acknowledging them? Here are my guidelines:
1. I will keep the link up from Tuesday to the following Monday, so you have a week to work on it (we all know that it isn't always possible to get things done on the day you were shooting for!)
2. Please either use the button I
slaved over made or use some other way to link back to this blog as the host. Here is a grab-it code:
3. Don't feel compelled to participate every week. By all means, drop in when you wish. But I do think that the more frequently you meditate on those who have been a positive part of your life, the more thankful to them and to the One who orchestrated it all you'll be.
4. Don't feel compelled to write a sooperdeedooper long post. I tend to write voluminously (I take after my dad's writing style, not my mom's), but we all know that more isn't always better. As Blaise Pascal wrote in one of his Lettres Provinciales, published in 1657, said, "I have made this [letter] longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter." [Yes, that is the Pascal for whom my son Max-Pascal is named…I do love me some philosophers.] Say what you want to say.
5. Mention at least how you know the person and the particular impact (or impacts) they've had upon you.
6. Share it: either publicly on your blog or Facebook or some such platform, or privately as in an email or a good old-fashioned paper and ink letter. You'll know your subject well enough to know which treatment he/she would prefer.
7. Your subject need not be treading this earth still. Feel free to write about someone who has passed on, whether recently or centuries ago. If they've inspired you, it counts.
8. Don't feel pressure to do them "in order of importance." I mean, you can if your brain works like that. But I'm not going to be doing them in any particular order, so don't be readin' into the order in which I am going!
I'm excited for this. I'm doing this publicly so that I (hopefully) won't flake out. Let me close by quoting George Eliot's final lines in her novel Middlemarch (which is one of my favs and quite influential). She is speaking of the novel's main protagonist, Dorothea Brooks:
But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
Let's celebrate some "unhistoric acts" that have changed our own history and thank those who lived "incalculably diffusive" lives.