George Carlin has a famous routine about the seven dirty words that you can’t say on television, in polite company, or in public for that matter. It seems that Mr. Carlin forgot another word that you can’t say in public anymore…
Last week I was at a corporate management meeting in beautiful Lake Tahoe. As part of the several day meeting we had some group activities meant to promote teamwork and to motivate us as a group. One of the events included a hike / scavenger hunt type of activity in a park situated between Tahoe and Reno. After the hike, we settled down to dinner and drinks in a building in the park for some bonding and motivation.
For inspiration, the company brought in a motivational speaker to teach us a few things about the can-do attitude. The speaker was three time Olympian luger, Ruben Gonzalez. Mr. Gonzalez has quite an interesting story. As in one of my favorite movies of all time, Rudy, Gonzalez was five foot nothing, a hundred and nothing, and with hardly a speck of athletic talent. But he had a dream to compete in the Olympics. He was a bench warmer on his college soccer team when the idea struck and he looked for the most ridiculous, obscure, and crazy sport he could find. Luge was it. As it turned out, since Gonzalez was born in Argentina and the sport was desperate for competitors from other countries, some people in the sport agreed to help him train. The training was long and grueling. This was what he was hoping for. Gonzalez reasoned, rightly it seems, that his only hope of making it to the Olympics was to find a sport where most people would quit, perseverance being his one true gift. Long story short, he made it to the Olympics multiple times, his latest visit coming at the ridiculous age of 39.
Back to my story. The entire group at this corporate event was enjoying Ruben’s talk about the virtue of perseverance. But then he said something that caused a large number of people to stiffen, recoil, and visibly manifest their discomfort. No, he didn’t utter one of Carlin’s famous dirty words. I am sure that if he had he would have received many hearty guffaws. The faux pas Ruben Gonzalez said that caused a large number of people to squirm was worse. He thanked God.
More than just a quick thanks to God which could easily be passed off as merely a gesture akin to a baseball players half sign of the cross after a routine single, no he actually spoke about God and about the gifts He bestows and our responsibility to use them well.
I work with many good people and likely not a few of them believe in God. But to speak of it so openly in a business setting was unsettling for many. They helplessly looked around at their colleagues seemingly wondering “Are you allowed to do that?”
Ruben went on to tell the assembled executives and managers “We were designed and created for extraordinary achievement. God puts a dream in your heart. God gives you all the gifts, talents, and hidden resources you’ll need to make your dream come true. It is up to you to do the work.” Amen.
As pleased as I was by his gratitude to God, I was amazed and perhaps slightly chagrined that my colleagues would display such noticeable discomfit to something so innocuous, simple, and right. Gratitude to God.
I silently resolved that I would make a concerted effort to bring God into my conversation at work in simple ways. Perhaps this effort will help stem the tide of secularism just a bit. Otherwise, George Carlin will need to add the eighth dirty word to his routine, God.