As I said in my entry Splintering The Darkness (Part I), my church (Knightdale UMC) has a new mission statement: “Knightdale United Methodist Church seeks to Splinter the Darkness in our World….we will strengthen your faith, fuel your fire and fill you with the fruits of Christ!” As the sermon series about our new mission statement continued this morning, I recalled a story Robert Fulghum (of “Everything I Needed to Know” fame) told about attending a lecture given by Alexander Papaderos, a noted peace activist. At the end, Dr. Papaderos took questions from the audience. As people were gathering their belongings, Fulghum asked “Dr. Papaderos, what is the meaning of life?”. Amid chuckles and dismissive laughter, Papaderos took a small, round mirror out of his pocket and answered:
“When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place. I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine–in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find. I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light –truth, understanding, knowledge–is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it. I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world–into the black places in the hearts of men–and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”
In Splintering the Darkness (Part I), I confessed that I was less than thrilled with our new mission/vision statement; to be perfectly honest, I thought it was lame. However, as they flashed it on the screen during service this morning, I remembered what Dr. Papaderos said and the statement that seemed lame took on a entirely new meaning.