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The Meaning of Life? Just One Thing

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?

[holds up one finger]

Curly: This.

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean [anything].

Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”

Curly: [smiles] That’s what *you* have to find out.

From City Slickers (1991)

I don’t often begin with lines from an early-90s Hollywood movie; but when I do, it’s City Slickers. While I don’t remember a whole lot from this Billy Crystal flick, the above-quoted scene really stands out in my mind as words to live by.

City Slickers is not an overtly religious movie, but in this scene Curly is teaching Mitch a lesson of deep spiritual importance. It’s a lesson about paying attention to calling, being faithful to the purpose for which we were each put here on this planet. Though he expresses it in the plain and simple language of a cowboy, Curly offers a word about discernment.

This is a message that I need to pay attention to. Because it’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to divide my focus between many exciting projects rather than focusing on that one thing that really matters.

What is that one thing? Like Curly says, it’s going to be different for each of us. God has given each person a unique set of gifts to bless the world with, and in community we find how those gifts fit together with others to build up the body of Christ. But whatever the gifts, whatever the calling, it is essential that each of us be true to the particular service that God invites us into. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean anything.

Have you discovered your one thing, the life’s work that fills you with joy despite all of challenges and heartbreak that go along with it? Though the calling is unique and personal, how have you found your one thing drawing you into shared life and service with others? How can we help one another to become aware of our one thing, and to support one another to live into that calling in community?