The Importance of Acknowledging Our “Deep Gladness”

Several years ago, I read a story in The New York Times that really stayed with me. The story was about a Scottish museum director — Sir Timothy Clifford — who, while visiting the Cooper-Hewitt museum and looking through a number of old boxes that had been largely ignored by that museum’s staff, discovered a drawing that he and other experts agree is a work by Michelangelo. Here’s the paragraph that really caught my attention: “…Early in his career Sir Timothy was an assistant curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, working on ceramics. As a small child he collected porcelain and was so obsessed that he used to go to bed with his cups and saucers, stroking them to determine by touch, in the dark, whether he could figure out which factories in France… made what.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t know any boys — or girls either — who cuddle their cups and saucers under the covers to identify them by touch. So Sir Timothy’s story seems to me to be a marvelous example of paying attention to what it is that we delight in as individuals, what we have always delighted in. By doing that, we receive such clues as to what it is we can contribute to the world. In the words of Frederick Buechner, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

May we re-discover the places where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet — and may we have confidence that our own version of teacups-under-the-covers can have ramifications beyond our imagining.

—Rev. Maggie Oman Shannon

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