Ethical Edge

By Russell Williams

Ethical Edge

2012 ~ Emilie Parker

They Came My Way
Relationship & Goodwill

I accept relationship as my primary teacher about myself, other people,
and the mysteries of the universe.
Gay Hendricks

It is 2012.  On December 14th heartache stole our nation’s psyche.  At Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the horrific massacre of twenty youngsters and seven adults shattered the season of the Bethlehem Child and the timeless remembrance…Glory To God in the Highest…and on earth… goodwill toward men.

Such a tragedy begs an answer to a haunting question of history.  Will goodwill ever reign in a world cluttered with painful evil?  Can we imagine otherwise?  Can we, the dreamers, wisely whisper the hopefulness of goodwill?

The timeless message of hope somehow found its voice in the father of 6 ½ year-old Emilie Parker, just one day after she was gunned down. Emilie’s dad, Robbie, gave a glimpse into his daughter’s life legacy as he talked about his little blond angel:

“Emilie was an exceptional artist,” her dad stated.  “She always carried markers and pencils with her, never missing the chance to draw on a card for those around her.  I can’t count the number of times Emilie found someone feeling sad or frustrated and rushed to grab a piece of paper to draw them a picture or write them a note.”

Last January, 2012, just a month before the Parker family moved from Utah to their new home in Newtown, I began my year-long They Came My Way writing journey.  Weekly, I wrote about individuals in my life…who offered me wisdom’s insight, encouragement, guidance, clarity, purpose, renewal.

Some came my way for many years to walk beside me.  Others came for a day, a few months, or a few years.  But all came to weave their thread into the tapestry of my life with the values exploration that shapes the message of goodwill.

As I began my storytelling last January, I had a list of those individuals I wanted to write about. I had a hunch that storytelling would meaningfully touch the lives of my Readers, and in doing so, invite their exploration of those who came their way.  But never did I anticipate my writing would fundamentally reframe the big Life Lesson of my soon-to-be sixty-seven years.

A father’s remembrance in Connecticut confirmed for me that this youngster, who I never met, was my teacher for the final They Came My Way message. Little Emilie’s artist story was the Capstone Lesson: Relationship.

What are the fundamentals of Relationship? Receiving and Giving the Good. The order is essential to understand the foundation of wisdom.  All wisdom is about receiving, first. We are not the author of goodwill.  That job is God’s.  Rather the Good comes to us to move through us.  We receive the Good in order to  give the Good.

Children intuitively carry this information of the receiving mind. The innocent, dependent childlike mind is the beginning awareness from which all cognitive development emerges.

At age six, Emilie, as all children her age, intuitively connected to the DNA of wisdom. Wisdom operates in the following way: We get equipped.  Said differently, we receive a gift and we become the Bestower of the gift we have received.  Emilie’s gift was her artistic creativity.  She generously gave of her gift to bring Good to others who came her way.

Emilie was freely alive in giving goodwill. She actively demonstrated goodwill.  Goodwill is always available to be received and acted upon.  But receiving…when we are adults…requires we put aside the belief that any of us creates the gift that is ours to bestow. Rather, we are simply the channel through which our gift brings Good to our relationships.

Two thousand plus years ago the timeless message of goodwill came as a gift given to all as the Christ Child of Bethlehem.  The angels heralded the message of the child… calling him Emmanuel…God is with Us.

Years later this child clarified the fundamental relationship of life when he was asked, Who are you?  His response confirmed the message of his birth…”If you knew me, you would know the Father who sent me.  I and the Father are one.”

The child of Bethlehem…Emmanuel…never forgot the fundamental story of life:  The relationship of receiving and giving.

Will goodwill reside on earth someday?  Emilie knew it. Every child knows it.  We all were children once who knew the fundamental relationship of goodwill. So how do we…as adults … remember the big fundamental relationship we forget by the time we were ten years old?

We remember by being alert to those who come our way with the goodwill message.  These Wisdom messengers bring content to inform us that goodwill is present: It appears as respect, responsibility, forgiveness, trust, moral courage…to name but a few of the goodwill attributes.  The messengers are everywhere. They care about you and they want to encourage you.  The messengers will continue to grow.

They will come to us, just like Emilie came to bring forth an expression of the gift she received. Every wisdom gift, cradled in the mind and heart of someone is waiting to be received by someone.

To each of you who has been a beneficial reader of the They Came My Way messages of 2012…I am grateful.  

My appreciation grows exponentially knowing you have received the fundamental message:  Be the one who gives the gift of goodwill as you come another’s way.




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