The beauty and intricacy of mosaics, tiles, and stained-glass windows fascinate me. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some exceptional examples: Notre Dame in Paris; St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City; the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Missouri; and the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, both in Istanbul. St. George, my childhood parish in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, had a beautiful stained-glass window above the altar with a lamb at the center, representing the Lamb of God.
I stared at that window repeatedly during Masses, seeking its meaning.
In a mosaic, thousands, if not millions, of individual pieces all work together in perfect harmony to tell a single story, to create a vibrant picture. While each piece individually may not seem significant in and of itself, each is a critical part of the whole. Sometimes you need to look carefully to find and interpret the story imbedded in a mosaic, but the story is always there. I think of each life as a personal mosaic. My own mosaic is made up of all the experiences and people I’ve encountered on my life journey so far. Our mosaics comprise the people who touched us, and, more profoundly, how those people affected our views, perspectives, and development. A person may leave an impression, a set of values, a belief system, or a set of actions that we might want—or not want—to emulate.
The pieces of a mosaic are often shards from smashed, shattered, weathered, and forgotten objects. These are used to create something beautifully textured, unique, and personal. In other words, the shambles and missteps of life make the mosaic more beautiful and meaningful.
While the patterns in our personal mosaics become more defined as we mature, the picture—the art of our lives—cannot be entirely complete until we draw our last breath. The last words of encouragement—that you offer to someone or that someone offers to you—may find their way onto both mosaics. A mosaic missing even a single element of your life is akin to a jigsaw puzzle missing a key piece. Think of your completed mosaic as a gift to your family and friends to cherish once you are gone. It is a thing of beauty.
In writing my book, Taking Stock, I’m sharing my personal mosaic. It may seem like a collection of unrelated experiences—pieces of glass, some bright and vibrant, some dark and brooding. Most of those detailed here are about my life’s work thus far, inside and outside the parameters of my job descriptions. I expect to have many productive years ahead of me, and my mosaic will continue to be shaped by experiences, lessons, and observations.
–Excerpt from Taking Stock: 10 Life and Leadership Principles from My Seat at the Table. Available on Amazon.com