Life: Purpose and Goals

Life: Purpose and Goals
Lent 43

Today is April 1st. It is a day commonly known for its jokes and pranks. In Canada, Brazil, Australia, the European continent and the United States of America, April Fools’ Day is a day set aside for the playing of pranks and telling jokes. News stories are full of supposed new items or astounding feats of strength – none of which are true. Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to make literary note of such in his “Canterbury Tales” but the actual origin of the day is relatively unknown. The reason for such a holiday, however unofficial it might be, is international.

The Romans celebrated the festival of Hilaria; India has its Holi festival. In medieval times, the Feast of Fools was celebrated. The Hilaria Matris Deum of the Romans was to honor the mother of all their gods, Cybele. Held after the spring vernal equinox when the daytime began to be longer than the night, the festival celebrated all things joyous and that included the playing of games, masquerades, and the playing of pranks. The Holi is a festival celebrated in all parts of Asia. It begins with a nighttime bonfire. Known as the festival of love or colors, the following day is one big colorful celebration. Balloons are filled with colored water and anyone living is considered fair game to be a target. It is usually held just before the spring vernal equinox, a celebration of the joy that the new season will bring.

The Feast of Fools is somewhat disputed in history as to its origins. Thought to have originated in northern France, it was a day set aside for the lower classes to change places with the upper classes. Some believe it began as a day to honor the lower deacons of the church, occurring on or around St Stephen’s Day. Other references have it occurring on January 1st. The Roman Church made deliberate effort to destroy all references to the holiday. In his book “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, Victor Hugo uses the Feast of Fools as the setting for an important scene. In the Disney adaptation, it is the setting for the meeting between the male main character and his female protagonist love.

On April1, 1698 the poet John Aubrey made the first English reference to the day, calling it “Fooles holy day”. People had been tricked on this day into going to the Tower of London to supposedly “see the Lions washed”. The New Year was celebrated in France on March 25 and celebrations lasted until April 1st. There is thought that people joked about those celebrating on this day, calling them “fools”. Whatever the origin, the day is an unofficial international holiday.

In seeking the sacred of our living, the question must be asked: What are my goals? What is my purpose? To live without such thoughts might be considered foolish. It certainly would not be effective. We speak of purpose as a singular thing but goals in the plural. The words are often interchanged and some consider them to be synonyms.

Goals are often defined as what we want to accomplish while purposes are seen as the reason behind the goals. We often assume that our goals will be the result of hard work and hard work is definitely a component of successfully attaining one’s goals. However, hard work is not the magic key. How we live is. That is determined by the importance we place on what we do, the priorities we set in our living, and our beliefs. These things result in our purpose of living. Our purpose will motivate us to achieving those goals.

Purpose is sometimes references as one’s fundamental reason for being. The reality is that we are born. Our purpose is something we develop and it is intricately woven into the fabric of our lives by how we live our beliefs, how we allow our lives to witness our faith.

On a day in which many will “prank” another, I would ask “Where is your faith in the joke?” Some might think faith and laughter have no connection. I would disagree. Voltaire once said “God is a comedian in search of an audience.” I completely agree. The ostrich is a delightfully humorous animal as are other creatures. However their creation or evolution came into being, they provide us with a balance in an otherwise dreary world. Laughter is not the enemy of the faithful nor does it disrespect faith.

Goals are measurable. The progress one makes towards accomplishing a goal is quantifiable. Purpose is not as clear cut nor is it as easily judged. Purpose is more like a compass while a goal is the destination. Using that analogy, then we must ask how the prank we might pull today will steer us. Does it keep us on track or does it knock us off the path completely?

There is a purpose behind every goal, the purpose often creating the goal. If your purpose today is to spread laughter, then make certain it is a sacred joy. Far too often, we laugh at the expense of another. Comedy in the twenty-first century is more nastiness disguised with a smile instead of a shared humorous remark. A joke or prank that belittles another is not funny; it is a statement of veiled bullying. The choice is up to you, today, whether to be funny while maintain your purpose in living, or to be cruel, all for the sake of a joke. Humorist and pianist Victor Borge said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” The sacred in April Fools’ Day is to celebrate the joy of living, using laughter to unite us. Happy Smiles!

A goal is something we strive for that should be aligned with our purpose. Reaching our goal will help us accomplish our purpose. Goals usually emerge from a visioning process, or at the very least a “plan” that keeps us headed in the right direction, serving our purpose. Goals are meant to do that — they serve our purpose. Our purpose does not serve our goals — it helps us create them.
When you are rock-solid in your purpose, you can focus on the right things and get where you want go. Lacking either purpose or goals is certainly problematic.

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