The Fine Spirit of Courage

Sometimes remembering the outstanding actions or words of another is the best way to reconnect both heart and mind to the inexhaustible well of inner strength. So doing allows you to put matters into perspective, to gain either altitude or distance from the challenge you face or the problem with which you are wrestling.

William George Jordan provided one such example in his meditations on courage and I am honored and delighted to share it with you today:

Courage is no gaily-decked joyous craft to skim the summer seas when waves are sun-warmed; it is the sturdy life-boat that rides the angry waters when skies are dark. The lives of some men are a constant struggle, hopeless but for their courage. For fourteen years Robert Louis Stevenson had not a day’s health. When the use of his right hand failed him, his left hand assumed the burden of writing; when he could not use either hand to hold the pen, he dictated; when he could not speak, he still dictated, but by means of the deaf and dumb alphabet. His fine spirit defied the limitations of the body; there was no moan, no twinge of pain, no voice of protest, no obtrusion of self crept into the sunlit pages of his prose or verse. He gave the world his sweetness and his strength, the perfume from the crushed flowers of his struggle and sorrow, the honey of his triumph, not the sting of his mighty effort.

When you are down, unsure of yourself, wondering if you have what it takes to get the job done, remember this story.

You can overcome. More importantly, your victory will inspire others to find the courage to greet the world with renewed vigor.

Before you go, here’s a parting gift:

“To Dr. Hake” by Robert Louis Stevenson

In the beloved hour that ushers day,
In the pure dew, under the breaking grey,
One bird, ere yet the woodland quires awake,
With brief reveille summons all the brake:
Chirp, chirp, it goes; nor waits and answer long;
And that small signal fills the grove with song.

Thus on my pipe I breathed a strain or two;
It was scarce music, but ‘twas all I knew.
It was not music, for I lacked the art,
Yet what but frozen music filled my heart?

Chirp, chirp, I went on, nor hoped a nobler strain;
But heaven decreed I should not pipe in vain,
For, lo! not far from there, in secret dale,
All silent, sat an ancient nightingale.
My sparrow notes he heard; thereat awoke;
And with a tide of song his silence broke.

10 thoughts on “The Fine Spirit of Courage

  1. Ricardo B.

    It is always a most beautiful thing when the heart and mind unify in one purpose. Simply knowing what to look for when the disparity occurs is at least half the solution, if not most of it. I am understanding more and more that connecting to that purpose, consecrating oneself to some higher ideal you have set out for yourself, is a daily affair. It helps to bring focus and clarity to the day, for the many daily details rely on a greater perspective so that a proper balance can be had in life, and furthermore it simply helps to assure that you keep first things first. It’s important to remember why you are doing what you are doing, to keep that line open to the wellspring of inner strength for you will call on it time and time again to help you through the tough times.
    In this light, there is such great possibility.

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  2. Lady Leo

    I often read about another’s life and marvel at their courage to not only live but awaken the nightingales song in themselves. Another way to express the option of living through our higher selves. Thanks for this beautiful and stirring beginning to this day… I wonder could Dr. Hake be a distant relative? Wouldn’t surprise me!

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  3. Colin

    When you hear of stories like this, it either puts any small problems you have in perspective, or if your problems are as large as Robert Louis Stevenson’s, you see that you can still translate the beauty that is inside you no matter what the restrictions are. Living with dignity and grace while health has left you is a very inspiring example of courage, and there are so many examples of similar courage that you can find if you look for them. All these stories really reinforce my view that there is never any reason to stop allowing the beauty that is in each of us to come out and be shown in our lives.

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