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Impromptu Conversation with Alex McManus

July 13, 2004

Today, I was working in Alex’s McManus’s office with Peter. We were working on planning a retreat that is coming up on the 30th of this month. We were in Alex’s office because the lead team was having their weekly meeting in the big part of the office where all the couches are. When he came back in from his meeting we started to gather our things, but he said, “No, you guys don’t have to go. Please just stay there.” So we did. Alex sat at his desk whil we sat on the floor and he began to ask us what we were working on. That conversation evolved into “how did you come to be here at Mosaic”, “what are you long term goals for being here”, “what do you want to accomplish”, “what are your dreams”. As we talked, Mike came in and just asked if he could sit and listen. Soon, Josh came in and sat down too, then Jason and Merissa, then Scott, then Kendra, then Jen. We were all on the floor, listening intently to the wise sage. A work day turned into a 3 hour motivational, educational and inspirational conversation. We were being poured into. Alex asked us many question and talked about many things, getting to know each of our names, our personalities (mostly inferred through conversation), and our hopes. He asked us all, “what leader/hero in an action movie do you most see yourself as?” There was William Wallace and Robert Bruce from Braveheart, Legolas from Lord of the Rings and a number of others. I picked Samwise Gamgee, from Lord of the Rings. Sam was the one who kept the vision alive. He kept envisioning the Shire and being at home and was intent on accomplishing the task he had been given to do. He was loyal to the end, insisting that he made a promise and it was going to be kept. He may not have been the most obvious leader, and certainly on his own he would have been no good. But he had a cause worth fighting for and friends who were all fighting for that same cause. He had to be loyal to the accomplishment of fthe cause, for if he was not, life would cease and there would be no reason to go on living:

Frodo: “I canít do this, Sam.”

Sam: “I know. Itís all wrong. By right we shouldnít even be here. Itís like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really matter. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didnít want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, itís only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you that meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didnít. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?

Sam: That thereís some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And itís worth fighting for.

The next question was, “which leader/hero in an action movie would you most follow.” My answer again appeared from Lord of the Rings, sighting Aragorn this time. His humility and his servanthood speaks volumes of his character. His quiet life, his evident wisdom makes you intrigued as to what it might look like when all of his power as the king of men is unleashed. When it is time for him to assume his place as king, everyone is ready to follow, because his worth has been well proven by his quiet action.

“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost.”

Through talking with Alex and being able to connect and share my heart with him, and to gain insight about myself and my dreams, I was forever changed. Every so often people step into our lives that make us rethink everything: our worldview, our theology, our mission. I’ve met so many of those kinds of people this summer and will be better for it.

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