Lee Kravitz, editor of Parade, was fired on a Monday morning during a one-minute hallway conversation. 400 magazines are folding a year and thousands of journalists are without jobs.
Kravitz, in good journalistic fashion, used his lifestory as fodder for a book. His Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things is a meditation on work and the sudden lack thereof. He explores what it means to be a self-described workaholic achiever when the work dries up.
Initially he found himself retreating (“Instead of seeing friends again, I stopped taking their phone calls, Instead of playing with the kids, I took naps.”) “now I’m faced with two possible responses. Either I crack up, or I use this trauma as an opportunity to grow. Of course I crack up.”
But then comes the growth, as Kravitz sets out on a mission, devoting a year to completing the unfinished business of his life, including making amends to the people he has hurt. He reconnects with a schizophrenic aunt neglected by their family, forgives a high school nemesis, and honors a forgotten promise to an underprivileged African boy.
“Once a workaholic, always a workaholic…But I pledge to slow down and turn off the treadmill before I start getting overwhelmed, and to schedule regular periods of silence and reflection so that I can quiet my fears and count my blessings.” (from an article by Andrea Sachs “Business Books. Layoff lit” Time Magazine, May 31, 2010.)
Not bad advice for any of us these days.
“A Message to Those Who Have Strayed”
(Here is a letter from a young soldier in Afghanistan to his home church who sent him, in a care package, a copy of the daily devotional The Upper Room.
Dear Epworth United Methodist Church:
Thank you for all your prayers and letters while I am in Afghanistan. Your care package was wonderful. I especially enjoyed sharing the cookies with my roommate. But what I really wanted to thank you for is the copy of The Upper Room. Growing up, I often saw a copy in my home, though I never understood what it was or how it worked. Then the care package arrived with its copy of The Upper Room just for me. I won’t lie: at first, the devotional guide just sat there on my desk collecting dust. However, the weeks that followed brought turmoil into my life and began to wear me down. I dealt with long work hours, NCOs with abrasive personalities, and most of all the absence of my friends and family.
One night it occurred to me that, on my own, I couldn’t deal with everything that was going on. I realized how far away from God I had strayed. Then I did something I hadn’t done since I left home. I picked up my Bible and that copy of The Upper Room. The first devotion I turned to was “Those Who Have Strayed from God.” It was as if God had guided me to that specific page. Never has a message been so clearly given to me. I must have read it a hundred times. God knew what I needed.
I felt relieved and at peace after reading that devotion, and I continued reading my Bible. Since that night, I have experienced more hope in my life. I have become good friends with the chaplain, and the two of us have been working to set up a Wednesday night prayer group.
None of this would have been possible without God’s presence, your prayers and care package, and The Upper Room.
PFC Garrett Woodson
Famous Last Words
I am kind of a student of famous people’s last words. Most people die the way they have lived. Not always, but usually.
“Best of all, Christ is with us.” (John Wesley, Founder of the Methodist Movement, 1791)
How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden? (P.T. Barnum, Entrepreneur, 1891)
“This is pretty tough, but not as tough as stand up.” (actor/comedian Edgar Gwenn)
“Get my swan costume ready.” (Anna Pavlova, ballerina 1931)
“Either that wall paper goes, or I do.” (Oscar Wilde, essayist, humorist 1900)
“I must say, this has all been very interesting.” (Lady Mary Worley Montagu, writer 1762)
“I should never have switched from scotch to martinis.”( Humphrey Bogart 1957)
“Nothing matters, Nothing matters.” ( Louis B. Mayer film producer 1957)
“It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done. It is a far far better place that I go to than I have ever gone.” (Sydney Carton, a character in Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities).
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” speaks to the fact that Jesus lived his life as a fully human being.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” speaks to Jesus’ spirit of forgiveness, evocative of God’s character of love and forgiveness.
“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” speaks to Jesus’ faithful return to God from whom he came.