The Moral Bucket List

I subscribe to an online entity known as JesusHacks. I receive emails on a regular basis – some tips for attaining to Christlikeness, built around a specific topic. For example, And I always learn something that I can put to use right away.

Every Friday, Nei Samudre sends out an email with weekend reads for living like Jesus. It was there that I discovered this thought-provoking Op Ed piece written by David Brooks and published in The New York Times on April 11, 2015.


As I read what he wrote, I felt like I was in a steamy bathroom looking at a mirror that was slowly clearing up. A sense of catching a glimpse of myself in an unexpected way. This section in particular spoke to me. Perhaps it will resonate with you, too.

“This is a philosophy for stumblers. The stumbler scuffs through life, a little off balance. But the stumbler faces her imperfect nature with unvarnished honesty, with the opposite of squeamishness. Recognizing her limitations, the stumbler at least has a serious foe to overcome and transcend. The stumbler has an outstretched arm, ready to receive and offer assistance. Her friends are there for deep conversation, comfort and advice.

External ambitions are never satisfied because there’s always something more to achieve. But the stumblers occasionally experience moments of joy. There’s joy in freely chosen obedience to organizations, ideas and people. There’s joy in mutual stumbling. There’s an aesthetic joy we feel when we see morally good action, when we run across someone who is quiet and humble and good, when we see that however old we are, there’s lots to do ahead.

The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be. Unexpectedly, there are transcendent moments of deep tranquillity. For most of their lives their inner and outer ambitions are strong and in balance. But eventually, at moments of rare joy, career ambitions pause, the ego rests, the stumbler looks out at a picnic or dinner or a valley and is overwhelmed by a feeling of limitless gratitude, and an acceptance of the fact that life has treated her much better than she deserves.

Those are the people we want to be.”  (emphasis mine)

Read the rest of David Brook’s observations and encouragements, here:

I’ll be busy getting around to building my eulogy virtues…


About verawrites

Progress not perfection - that's my goal. Live and learn - that's my motto. I like to share bits of wisdom and glimmers of insight gleaned on my life journey of 50+ years. My hope is to encourage, perhaps inspire, fellow journeyers. Each of us has something to share. Let's be generous, gracious and compassionate with one another. I am blessed to be a blessing... so are you!
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8 Responses to The Moral Bucket List

  1. hhh4u says:

    Wow, Vera, this is really thought-provoking! My favorite is: “There’s joy in freely chosen obedience to organizations, ideas and people.” I think many of us fail to realize this until it’s taken away. I’d like to check out of his writing…


  2. bethbyrnes says:

    Somehow Vera, I did not get the original notification for this post! I have to figure out what happened.

    Coincidentally, I was going to mention David Brooks’ new book on morals in my post this week, too. It is something that has been on my mind.

    Jesus was not a competitive person. I don’t really know or understand wny anyone would ant to be better than someone else. That has been totally left out of my DNA, luckily. It has saved me a great deal of grief.

    More on all this. Thank you for links to these valuable resources and forgive my late, late response!


    • verawrites says:

      Actually, you did get it and in emails you promised to read and respond at a later date. So you are honourable and kept your word, Beth. A highly prized and exceedingly rare quality these days. I was raised on what one could call biblical principles. What serves as a moral compass for people today, I wonder? Anyway, good food for thought…


      • bethbyrnes says:

        (Well, that is probably because I get emails and posts from you and sometimes I confuse the two — my fault entirely. I have been swamped with work the last few weeks and so am way behind on everything else. Forgive me!! I like to follow through in a more timely manner.)

        But this is not all about me. It is about having a moral compass, and what better one than that Jesus gave us? That is how I start and end every day. Otherwise, I would be even worse than I am now.


      • verawrites says:

        I can relate to the swamped feeling. Thought things were ticking along, then bam, changes, work to redo, extra projects, tighter deadlines etc. Life is way to challenging to live without Jesus (I start and end with Him, too). My challenge is to remember to include Him throughout the day in everything. I’m reading “Jesus Calling” which is written as though Jesus is speaking directly to me (ie., the reader). Many of the daily devo’s echo the theme – stay close to me, don’t let distractions and demands consume you. I’m here to help; let me.

        Wishing you sanity and fruitfulness and an overarching peace in everything you do, Beth. You continue to amaze me with your capacity and giftedness. My introverted self struggles sometimes, but my Taurean faithfulness perseveres…


      • bethbyrnes says:

        Awww, thank you Vera. I am in a photography seminar today and it is so overwhelming I am ready for a nap, LOL! Why do I take on these things … Leo creative drive? 🙂


      • verawrites says:

        Perhaps it’s God’s way of balancing things… you do too much and that allows folks like me to slack off a bit (esp when the pressure mounts elsewhere – like my work – revisions, waiting for others, new projects, fluctuating deadlines – aaagggghhh!) Enjoy the peace and beauty that your eyes drink in – and thank you for sharing with us!


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