“Ah, but a man’s REACH should exceed his grasp—or what’s a heaven for?” In my junior year of high school I was presented with this quote from a Robert Browning poem and assigned to write that dreaded “two page, double spaced paper” about the meaning. I don’t know about you, but at that age I was certainly not philosophically equipped on matters of reality and existence; reading the poem itself, Andrea del Sarto, only muddled my meager thoughts more! That paper was without doubt the most difficult I’ve ever written: exemplified by how fresh it remains in this 77 year old brain. I wish I could remember more than the big fat red A+, but the quote lives on in my mind.
The teacher who gave out this assignment would be astonished to know how much that quote has influenced my life. At a very basic level I probably wrote that we are destined to try to do bigger and better things than we think we can. Through the years I have experienced the very concept of attempting a REACH that seemed beyond my grasp; only to find the mission nearly grasped became eclipsed by the next endeavor—a new more challenging REACH.
It is not known if Robert Browning was a religious man. Early in his life he claimed to be an atheist, although it seems from his poetry that he did not remain so. I am loath to use the word evolve here since in the political climate of the day it has replaced I’ve changed my mind, but the meaning of the quote has evolved from the “reaching for the stars” concept of the 15-year-old into a virtual religious tenet for me. God has given each of us talents which he expects us to use—always REACHING to be better in our offerings. We learn from every endeavor: more about ourselves and our relationship with Him.
We all have read or heard the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30. It’s a parable about the different gifts according to God’s grace that each of us is given. In this parable a wealthy man entrusted his fortune to his servants for the time he would be away. Each of them were given talents (a very large sum of money.) Two of them used their talents wisely to earn income for their master, but the third dug a hole and hid the one talent he was given. When the master returned the first two servants were rewarded, but the third was reprimanded; he was called out as a “wicked, lazy servant.”
I’m not trying to get all Biblical on you (Lord knows that my sister, Shannon, is laughing her head off at my “paraphrase” of a parable), but humbly I submit the talents God has entrusted to me (us) are not always visible. It takes a lifetime of searching and reaching—77 years and counting.
On June 22, 2014, I began another of those REACHES that seemed far beyond my grasp. Steve (our son) and Gale (our daughter-in-law) were visiting from Door County in Wisconsin. Food, vodka tonics, and conversation dominated the weekend while the usual stories were exchanged and our experiences as a family living overseas were reminisced. Steve suggested that I write a blog about all our experiences.
At that time I was very active in a local Tea Party Group, but felt that we were preaching to the choir. Although the information we were providing was important, I felt it was equally important to create an outreach program to speak to those from a different choir. I had often thought of writing a blog; one in which I could be true to my own convictions, while hopefully inspiring conversation, not confrontation. As tempting as the idea was, I knew nothing about creating a website. Steve immediately went to the computer and set me up with a web host, Network Solutions, and a domain name. The four of us labored over the name and came up with marspeak.net. THEN THEY WENT HOME! (Later Gale sent me an email with the definition of marspeak according to the Urban Dictionary: “As in being so high you’ve passed high as a kite. And you’ve gotten so high you’re speaking as an alien.” The deed was done and paid for however, and marspeak it remained.
And there I was with a web host and a domain name, wondering what the Web Host was going to do for me and what the heck was WordPress that I was directed to download. It truly was Urban Dictionary’s Alien world. At 53 years of age when I graduated from Harrington Institute of Interior Design I had mastered AutoCad with the help of a wonderful teacher, but I was on my own with this alien called WordPress now.
I didn’t know a widget from a plugin— nor a welcome page from a blog page. Some of the REACHES I made required up to two weeks to solve. Lisa Sabin-Wilson’s book WordPress for Dummies became my best friend, and when I couldn’t understand even the directions for dummies I turned to Google and YouTube. For those of you who might be interested in building a blog I suggest Josh Jackson’s YouTube— How To Make A WordPress Website And Blog – From Scratch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyARzdLKjKw. I chose his video because it was the longest at 2 hours, 36 minutes, and 56 seconds.
It was nearly an entire year before I launched marspeak.net on June 13, 2015; an entire year devoted to the GRASP that always exceeded the REACH because I needed more information. On the evening of June 12th I was ready to launch only to find out that I didn’t know how to launch. I announced to Vern that I wasn’t going to bed until I launched “the damn thing.” Can you imagine how excited I was when I actually viewed marspeak.net on the internet at 1:30 a.m. in the morning?
Like too many of us, it was difficult to go out of my comfort zone. Too often we avoid the perseverance involved in accomplishment and find a plethora of excuses for our laziness—easier to sit on our Talents than to share what God has given us.
This lazy-entitlement of just do enough to get by has damaged an entire class of people and the American way of life. Lazy is a failed policy. Laziness doesn’t belong in our God BLESSED America.
This is a prayer that guides me in my lifetime quest of searching and reaching.