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A humorous story has it that a newly appointed young clergyman was contacted by a local funeral director to hold a graveside service at a small country cemetery in midwestern USA. There was to be no funeral, just a graveside service, because the deceased had no family and had outlived her friends.
The young pastor started early to the cemetery, but soon became lost. After making several wrong turns, he finally arrived a half-hour late. The hearse was nowhere in sight and cemetery workers were relaxing under a near-by tree, eating their lunch.
The pastor went to the open grave and found that the vault lid was already in place. He took out a prayer book and read a few paragraphs. As he returned to his car, he overheard one of the workers say, “Maybe we’d better tell him it’s a septic tank.”
Why is it we make our biggest mistakes in public? And some people can’t avoid it … former hockey goalie Jacques Plante wonders, “How would you like a job where, if you made a mistake, a big, red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?”
But we should never give up our right to be wrong. Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment. It is your right to be wrong. “No (one) ever became great or good except through many and great mistakes,” said William E. Gladstone. Great mistakes are opportunities for great learning. And great learning makes for great living.
Now, that’s something I can get into. I don’t need to be a great person, just one who believes that his life is worth living well. And if that means I need to make some magnificent mistakes along the way, I’ll take that on as part of the price to pay.
You and I have a right to be wrong. And if we are to move toward great living, we might even have a duty to make great mistakes. Sometimes we can laugh them off. Certainly we can learn from them. And always, let’s just make sure the next mistake is one we haven’t made before!
-- Steve Goodier
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