I was at a boring leadership seminar in 1998 when I picked up Richard Branson's Losing My Virginity, - how I've survived, had fun, and made a fortune doing business my way. I was hooked. I enjoyed his go-for-broke, adventurous spirit. I was intrigued by the story of how he and his wife found the little, uninhabitable Necker Island in the Virgin Islands and turned it into a luxurious hideaway. And I loved how close the Branson family seemed to be.
Right after Christmas I heard that Richard's daughter Holly had just gotten married. It only took four trips to Barnes and Noble to find the exact copy of Hello magazine with the cover Holly Branson
Marries on Necker Island. 35 pages of Branson island wedding beauty. I was in heaven.
And it almost didn't happen. Four months ago, wedding plans long underway, a freak accident involving a lightning bolt caught the main house on fire. The house burned to the ground with all 18 occupants narrowly escaping. But that didn't stop the Bransons. Holly and Freddie "decided to return to the exact spot where the beloved building once stood and to turn its ashes into a place of celebration." As Sir Richard told Hello "we have a lifetime of happy memories from the Great House, so its ruins couldn't have been a more perfect setting to hold such a beautiful wedding....There’s a lot of damage but we’ll create something even more special out of the ruins. We definitely turned a negative into a positive."
I shared this story, pictures and quotes for the devotional thought at our weekly hospice team meeting last Friday. Friday ended up being the day we were all being moved into our new office. We needed a place to meet and I had asked my church if we could use the youth room. It seemed ironic to be talking about turning bad experiences into good times in my old church with my new team.
We talked about how each day our team throws a Branson wedding. Each day we get to walk into a place of sadness, chaos, fear and confusion and bring relief, comfort, companionship and care. Each day we have the opportunity to create something positive out of the negative. And each day we are witnesses to the beauty that thrives even in the ruins.
Eight hundred years ago - before Hospice was dreamed of, or Necker Island was discovered, Saint Francis of Assisi prayed a beautiful prayer to inspire this spirit in all of us.
- Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
- Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
- Where there is injury, pardon.
- Where there is doubt, faith.
- Where there is despair, hope.
- Where there is darkness, light.
- Where there is sadness, joy.
- O Divine Master,
- grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
- to be understood, as to understand;
- to be loved, as to love.
- For it is in giving that we receive.
- It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
- and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.