living values

I have been asked today to speak to a group of unemployed persons about goal-setting. As I reflected on that theme my mind immediately went to a couple I met 13 years go this September. He was a man my age who grew up in Nova Scotia, not far from me. She was a First Nations person having grown up on a reserve in Nova Scotia. Her first husband had died leaving her with two small children. When she met this man from Nova Scotia and they had dated for some time they became a family. Now she was pregnant and they wanted to marry. The wedding itself took place in a gazebo in a public park. I took my daughter Lucy, the wedding was only a 30 minute walk from our home.

The husband-to-be was Caucasian like me, as were half of the 50 wedding guests. When he and I met for the first time he was reading Augustine’s Confessions. He was extremely well-read and quizzed me on my views of original sin, redemption and salvation. I could tell he had studied the classics and wanted to know if my own faith was grounded in the study of theology and philosophy.

The wife-to-be was a First Nations person, her passion was First Nations land rights and her family. She worked for the Federal Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa. That is what had taken them from the valley of Nova Scotia to the National’s capital. She was very driven and knew this would come at a cost to her family life. That is what made her partnership with her husband so special, he was brilliant, creative but not driven. He was as laid-back as she was intense and he was happy to stay home and care for the children. Moreover job he had when they met, security guard, was well matched for someone who wanted flexible hours, maximum time to spend with his children and read (even at his desk).

Their home reflected their values, it was NOT tidy but instead full of activity, classic paintings on the walls, books everywhere, everything they needed to remain active, engaged and ready to go. The wedding was set in a public park, the bride wore a dress she had purchased at a used clothing store, same for the groom. The music was a blend of sacred and pop, all on CD’s played with a music box. When the wedding ended the meal consisted of buckets of KFC and cake made by a guest. The atmosphere throughout was festive and inclusive and the cost was minimal. In short the values of this couple were reflected in everything they did, said and shared that day.

In short the couple put their time, talent and treasure to the efforts they believed in and they skipped and saved on anything that was not part of who they were, who they were attempting to become. Never have I witnessed a couple at one event, that most perfectly reflected what putting one’s values to work, living one’s faith and beliefs, looks like.

I intend to share this story with the group of participants I will meet today. I hope it is as inspiring to them as it has been to me.