Monday, March 30, 2009


Bob was a mailman. He was quiet. He walked everywhere. He acquired little, and accumulated less. Growing up around the corner, from my vantage point, Bob’s life didn’t amount to much. He didn’t really ‘do’ anything.

Bob passed away last week. At his memorial service letters were read that had been written by his two grand daughters. They lived below with their mum and dad (Bob’s son) in a suite that had been built in the family home. In the letters these two young girls expressed just how much Bob had done. He had shaped their sense of wonder and curiosity. He had, through his presence and through his active participation in their lives, broadened their sense of themselves.

Bob’s son and daughter spoke of their dad’s encounters with others. As kids they had watched their dad engage people, his mail delivery customers, his neighbours, or their friends. They learned of his humility, his grace, and his desire to make others important. It became abundantly clear, in that crowded chapel, that Bob’s life had amounted to plenty.

Over my life time I have been on both a conscious, and unconscious, search for meaning. What does my life amount to? I have used as a measurement personal success, recognition, and all that goes with that. I have also used faith and belief, the idea that I count for something in the universe and the Creator of the world loves me.

But now, I’d conclude, success and faith themselves aren’t really what gives life meaning. The real meaning is what Bob discovered. The real meaning comes from stepping beyond myself, and giving myself to others.

These recent economic times have made many reconsider what is important. Acquisition and accumulation, even if still possible, don’t hold the same value. From television ads to magazine articles, the talk now is of a simpler life. A time to slow down. The suggestion is that real importance comes from relationships. Real value comes from what we give.

It’s clear that Bob was very much ahead of his time.

1 comment:

  1. was there a specific incident in the letters? makes me want to go see 'il Postino' again.