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Location: Penang, Malaysia

July 10, 2008

Just One More Time... revisited

I blogged about Just One More Time back on March 14, 2005. I told this story to many people with the intention to motivate them. Many people had given up hope with our department. 3 years had passed, nothing is permanent in this world. So, it could be my turn next after holding fort for such a duration. I was talking to a colleague in the cafeteria this afternoon. This time, many old timers are looking outward for greener pasture. Career growth for some experienced old timers are pretty much limited with a bunch of "young" OEMs (overly enthusiastic managers) around. Answering questions with questions, asking dumb questions and claiming to be devil advocate... sigh... This friend "retold" me the story I told him 3 years ago.

I have to copy and paste this time as the old link is broken. Just One More Time by Hanoch McCarty.

There's a 19th-century English novel set in a small Welsh town in which every year for the past 500 years the people all gather in church on Christmas Eve and pray. Shortly before midnight, they light candle lanterns and, singing carols and hymns, they walk down a country path several miles to an old abandoned stone shack. There they set up a creche scene, complete with manger. And in simple piety, they kneel and pray. Their hymns warm the chilly December air. Everyone in town capable of walking is there.

There is a myth in that town, a belief that if all citizens are present on Christmas Eve, and if all are praying with perfect faith, then and only then, at the stroke of midnight, the Second Coming will be at hand. And for 500 years they've come to that stone ruin and prayed. Yet the Second Coming has eluded them.

One of the main characters in this novel is asked, "Do you believe that He will come again on Christmas Eve in our town?"

"No," he answers, shaking his head sadly, "no, I don't."

"Then why do you go each year?" he asked.

"Ah," he says smiling, "what if I were the only one who wasn't there when it happened?"

Well, that's very little faith he has, isn't it? But it is some faith. As it says in the New Testament, we need only have faith as small as a grain of mustard seed to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. And sometimes, when we work with disturbed children, at-risk youth, troubled teens, alcoholic or abusive or depressed and suicidal partners, friends or clients . . . it is at those moments that we need that small bit of faith that kept that man coming back to the stone ruin on Christmas Eve. Just one more time. Just this next time, perhaps I'll make the breakthrough then.

We sometimes are called upon to work with people for whom others have abandoned all hope. Perhaps we have even come to the conclusion that there's no possibility of change or growth. It's at that time that, if we can find the tiniest scrap of hope, we may turn the corner, achieve a measurable gain, save someone worth saving. Please go back, my friend, just this one more time.


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