While its origins are not entirely clear, it is reasonable to assume that the Roman Catholic Litany of the Saints officially entered the Mass under the papacy of St. Gregory at the turn of the sixth century. Gregory was born into the opulence of Sicily and, in stories reminiscent of Siddhartha Gautama 1,000 years earlier, he was overwhelmed by the life of the commoner and became a monastic. As was the case with Gautama Buddha, St. Gregory served as an emissary for greater awakening and understanding and, despite both of their protestations, both were thrust into greater public influence than their ascetic impulse had desired. Both Gregory and Buddha recognized that their individual lives were not isolated tangible egos but were part of a much greater arc that included those who came before and those who would follow (though Gregory was pretty sure that The End was near – inspired, in part, by the collapse of the Roman Empire). Both recognized the importance of understanding those whose lives inspired greater approximation to an ideal to which others could be encouraged to strive. Both formalized catechisms that included veneration of the saints.
In the Catholic Litany, the deity, patriarchs and prophets, apostles, martyrs, priests, and laity are recited punctuated by the congregational antiphons, “Have mercy upon us; Pray for us; Deliver us; Hear us.” I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in the mountains of East New Britain with the keepers of the fire dance – the Komgi – who like the Catholics and the Buddhists recite, in oral tradition, those who have been keepers of the community across the millennia. In their dance, which commences with night fall and continues until the last ember is crushed with the first light of dawn, they speak the names of their ancestors and spirit guides as they dance on burning coals as a way of welding the memory of these departed ones in their physical reality. And in each of these traditions, the veneration of those who came before is not merely a nostalgic retrospective: they all include some variant of the supplication – Kyrie eleison, Lord, have mercy.
As I was out walking Scooby in the woods this morning, I started my litany of my saints for 2013 and thought, “Why don’t I make this my year end post?” So, without their knowledge, permission or implied endorsement, here are my inspirations for 2013. Thanks.
Jimmy Smith, founder and CEO of Amusement Park Entertainment. Jimmy and I come from extremely different walks of life; have as many different as similar world views; and, share a burning passion for making the world a better place. Jimmy’s gift in my life is his relentless enthusiasm for what could be and his capacity to persist against indifference.
Yaacov Shirazi, founder of Aqua Index. Not only did Yaacov welcome me to participate with his business but he invited me into the home of his generous partner Nissan Khakshouri and afforded me the opportunity of fellowship with Nissan and his beautiful late wife Louise. In one evening in Tel Aviv I experienced the most magical dinner of the year in their gracious hospitality.
Theresa Arek, my sister and the founder of Amruqa. Theresa continues to be one of the most reliable, longest-lasting colleagues and friends I have anywhere in the world. Our friendship and mutual respect transcend any casual human experience. Together with the Asia-Pacific Power Women – Alise Stunnenberg, Margaret Malua, Enkhtuya Tsend, Battsetseg Shagdar, and Nergui Dorj – these amazing women have evidenced a capacity to challenge the status quo tirelessly and have, in so doing, transformed the experience of millions of people who don’t know their benefactors.
Bob Kendall, founder of Cole Publishing. If there was ever a person who modeled the generous spirit at the extreme that was kindled in my life by my father, it’s Bob. Together, our efforts this year ranged from health care in the Caribbean to quantitative trading at the innovative edge of the capital markets and unfailingly, Bob’s enthusiasm and loyalty incarnated with a perfection I’ve never experience before.
The Fraternity of Unusual Gentlemen (my term) including Edward West, Dustin DiPerna, Jon Darrall-Rew and Leo Burke. My life has been enriched and enlivened by these four men in ways that defy simple explanation. Each one individually (and the four of them collectively) have abraded my unconsidered, reflexive resistance to make my work and the philosophy that underpins it accessible to others. Through hours and days of relentless fellowship, their encouragement has triggered some of the best writing and communications I’ve been able to reduce into accessible form.
Dan Goldstein, Nick Drake, Sebastien Djavadi, Josh McFerrron, and Eric Edell individually and collectively played a huge role in encouraging the formation of the PB1 fund – one of our most significant achievements in 2013.
Lawrence Daveona, Chris Uma, and the team in Arawa and Panguna who showed me gracious hospitality and patience as together we work towards a peaceful stewardship of Bougainville and its vast and varied resources.
Shakara Lyon, Nicole Fegley, Sera Beak, Sofia Diaz, Corinne Vaudroz, and Kelly Bearer for deeply loving my Lady and opening up a deeper sense of purpose in her amazing life. Each of you have gently shaped in the marble of her form that the bluntness of my hammer and chisel were incapable of offering. You’ve taught me to put down the hammer and the chisel and let the true essence of the form emerge in its own elegant and beautiful way.
If you’re reading this, you are also in my litany of saints. The honor that is bestowed in my life through your constant companionship throughout the year provides an unusual fuel to keep my life motivated towards its full purpose and destiny. I encourage you to add your litany to mine – on the blog, on facebook or in whatever venue you find this post. I’ve just started the litany in the recitations above but my prayer for the coming year is that we all see the roles that we play in the lives of others and actually set time aside to honor the life that is shared and entangled with our own. And as with every litany there is a confession and plea for forgiveness: if I’ve neglected in word or deed to honor any of you, I trust that you see in my life a reflection of your gifts and you find in that reflection honor that reverts to you.
As you look from 2013 into the coming year, remind yourself of your inspirational influences and recite them aloud. If you need a little back up music as inspiration, give yourself a flashback to my favorite from the year I graduate from high school – a gift from Richard Page and his band, Mr. Mister – Kyrie.