Doing something worthwhile

A Keukenhof gardener, the Netherlands, 2007

“Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile.”  — Sir Wilfred Grenfell

It fascinates me to watch people who are engaged in tasks at which they are not only talented, but obviously enjoying themselves.  From the scene-stealing gymnasts or rock musicians, to the less flashy but no less interesting craftsmen or cooks, their absorbed focus on their tasks translates to valuable benefits for those of us who admire, use or consume their work.  Take time today to notice (and maybe even thank) people who are good at what they are doing.   We are all served by the diligent occupation of many people we do not know — whether a mail carrier, a nurse or an airline pilot — and in turn, may we all do something worthwhile that will enhance others’ lives.

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See Sydney Fong’s tribute to gardeners


  1. The world is a much better place when we remember those behind the scenes. Love you.

    • Amy, you were right there with me when I took this photo! Thanks for your thoughts and for being with us here as well.

  2. Mike Bertoglio

    You have been to this garden? In Netherlands. I have done some volunteering at a Seattle Japanese garden- Kubota.
    Nice quote and worth remembering.

    • Thanks, Mike. Yes, my friend Amy and I spent a wonderful day here in late March 2007, when the blooms were in full glory. You don’t want to know how many photos I took that day 🙂 but I’m sure several of them will end up on this blog eventually, as two already have. Next time I’m in Seattle, I’ll have to check out Kubota. I’m a fan of gardens everywhere. God’s art is amazing.

  3. So true! Thank you for the encouragement.

    • Carla, you are one of the people I wanted to honor in this message; those who work tirelessly (without a lot of recognition) to make the world a better place. Through your work as an educator in public school systems, as well as your role as a minister’s wife, you have touched countless lives with your compassion and devotion.

  4. Kathy

    Thank you for this reminder…particularly validating for moms at home, who have set aside other vocations to devote their focus, love, and energy to their families. p.s. I miss such GREEN, living in Texas. Beautiful garden.

    • Yes, I think mothers need this reminder most of all. BTW, I loved living in Texas but did miss the green while I was there. California only stays green for part of the year (except for watered lawns). Here in Virginia, the trees are lovely and most lawns stay green year round.

      • Rene

        I once went to a rock concert, where the performer had a shout-out to all those who participate in “extreme sports:” snowboarders, skiers, skydivers…and mothers with two or more children!!!”

        • I love it! Perfect! When I was a kid I remember reading in Reader’s Digest: “The man who climbs into the circus ring with lions and tigers impresses everyone except a school bus driver.” 🙂

  5. Julia, it looks like a labour of love on both sides of the camera.

    • Thank you! It certainly is that. There are few things I enjoy more than taking photos. It annoys some people, but others understand.

  6. I heard this interesting quote somewhere: Real generosity happens when no ones there to see it. With little effort it’s really easy to make someone happy in some little way during the day, even if it’s just to let someone into a long queue of traffic from the wrong lane or running after someone who’s dropped a glove. Yesterday, it was snowing like mad here and while I was only getting a few groceries, my car needed major sweeping in a short time. I decided since I was out there I’d sweep the car beside me too, maybe save them some time out in the cold. I didn’t stay to see their surprise, but I felt really sneaky and I hope it made them smile.

    • I love giving and receiving these types of kindnesses! I am always so grateful to merciful drivers, as I’m often the one who’s in the wrong lane :-0 not intentionally, just clueless at times. No wonder I like to walk. I think that common courtesy and kindness can actually turn someone’s day around. It has happened to me before.

      • Agreed! I also prefer to walk and in fact it can be faster to do so downtown where we live.

        • Even though it was snowy and icy much of the past 3 weeks (and even though I came and went as late as midnight many evenings), Matt and I were able to walk back and forth between Fisher House and the hospital much more easily than driving. Just getting in and out of the parking garages took longer than walking! After a few times I realize it was *stupid* to keep doing it, and we really enjoyed the walking after being cooped up all day in the hospital. In fact, one day we made THREE trips back and forth! But even though I was living mostly on coffee and walking a lot, I STILL did not lose any weight…still, the walking was great for my mental health, no doubt about it.

          • Geez, you know what? You’ll just wake up one morning 10 lbs lighter 😀 You must just be at your perfectly natural body weight and your body is hanging on to those lbs, sensing some stress. Apparently it’s in our DNA, or so I’ve read. Walking is great for the mental health and heart health too. I’m ignoring my scale at the moment. I’ve been panicking about a trip. The more I think about it the worse I do…I’m just going to wear a bathing suit cover up at ALL times….ha!

            • Sounds like a plan to me. I’m ignoring the scale too. It does amaze me how stubbornly our bodies cling to the status quo. Except when it comes to GAINING weight. I told Jeff I finally figured out why that is…you can only cut out so many calories, but there’s no limit to how many you can add on! Tis the season to be jolly, and that includes relaxing a bit about things like weights and measures. Plus, they have some really GORGEOUS cover ups now! 🙂


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