Remembering and reconnecting–living our life mission, ‘singing from our soul’ | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

There is a novel by James Hilton that was standard fare for first year high school literature back in the early ’70s. It is the story of a high school teacher in a boarding school in England who dedicated himself from beginning to end to the education and formation of the young men entrusted to the care of the school.

It was made into a movie twice. The first was in black and white and, I believe, won an Oscar. This must have been in the ’50s. The remake done in the ’70s starred Peter O’Toole and Petula Clark. The theme song of the remake of “Good-bye, Mr. Chips” was “Fill the World with Love.”

The movie and the song show us the cycle of a life well-lived, lived with meaning and dedicated to a dream, a mission.

In the morning of my life

I shall look to the sunrise

At that moment in my life when the world is new

And the blessing I shall ask only God can grant me

To be brave and strong and true

And to fill the world with love my whole life through

There is that moment in our life when we look to the sunrise and search for the meaning and mission of our life. Often it comes with a dream or call, a call that speaks to a deep desire in our heart and soul. It is the call of a dream that is embedded in the story of our life.


Many writers say this dream, this mission is destiny—ours from the beginning of our life. We are sent into this world for a specific purpose, thus it is a personal mission to be lived out. Parker Palmer, writer, lecturer, educator, calls it our natural birthright gifts, which we are often trained and formed away from and thus causes our dis-integration.

Then comes a moment when we realize this dis-integration and make a conscious choice to rediscover our dream and mission and dedicate our life to this. Here begins the journey back to our dream and mission; the journey of formation that leads to re-integration.

Formation begins with self-awareness that leads to self-acceptance. In Ignatian parlance, this is a realistic knowledge of self, which leads to freedom; first a freedom from self and the circumstances of one’s life. It is not denying the realities of one’s life, both the good and the bad, but rather it is an awareness of it all and an acceptance.

In the acceptance one transcends these realities and re-integrates one’s life in freedom, a freedom from these realities. And deepening this freedom, it evolves or is formed into a freedom for a dream, a mission, a freedom to commit.

Caring, loving educators

The past five years I have been working with public-school principals, supervisors and teachers, running formation programs with them. The goal of the program is to form them into caring, loving educators and to build communities of respect and care/love in their schools. The basic philosophy is that the best way to educate and form people, especially the young, is to love them into excellence.

In the close to 200 educators I have worked with in the in-depth program and the thousands I have conducted short seminars for, their dream was always to be a teacher—never to be a principal or supervisor. The dream often is inspired by a teacher or a mentor who had cared for them, who—to be consistent with the philosophy—had loved them into excellence.

Take the case of one principal. Right after she graduated, she realized that teaching was her mission. Growing up in a dysfunctional family, she found meaning in this experience when in teaching she discovered she could empathize and help her students, who are in a similar situation, to heal. Early on she saw this as her mission and dedicated her life to it fresh out of college.

Through the years she moved from teaching to administration work. She worked as an administrator for over a decade. Then, in the formation program, she went back to her dream. She remembered and reconnected with her original inspiration, her dream and mission—to help young people heal and discover their own mission.


After a few more months of reflection and formation, she decided to quit administration work and go back to teaching. It caught many of her colleagues by surprise. She was on track to rise in the hierarchy and be one of the ranking officers of the department. People thought she was making the wrong choice. Some even attributed it to the politics and power play that come with the turf of administration work. Yet for her it was simply returning to her dream and mission. It was a simple yet profound choice.

She once shared in our formation session that she simply had to “sing from her soul” again and live out what was clearly her dream and mission. This dream and mission was what made her teach, and after over 20 years the dream and mission remained the same.

In the noon time of my life

I shall look to the sunshine

At that moment in my life when the skies are blue

And the blessing I shall ask remains unchanging

To be brave and strong and true

And to fill the world with love my whole life through

Human situation

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. It is the moment when the 11 disciples—who started off with the dream, left everything behind, and followed Jesus—renew and remember the original inspiration of their journey to follow him. While we celebrate the ascending of Jesus who now intercedes for us “at the right hand of the Father,” we also celebrate the sending out into the world, the missioning of the 11. They go back to the original inspiration that made them leave home and follow Jesus.

One of the 11, Peter, from beginning to end epitomized the human situation of discovering the dream and mission, living it out, faltering and constantly renewing, and finally accomplishing the mission.

One early morning, Peter was called to be a “fisher of men.” He was reluctant at first, like all genuinely commissioned men in the Bible, but the call makes him leave everything behind to follow Jesus. A good description of Peter is, he is impetuous. How many times do we see him rushing into things, saying things, but only to falter? Yet in the end he himself summarizes it well, “Lord, you know everything. You know well that I love you.”

Then Jesus tells him to preside in love as the leader of the early Church as his mission to follow Jesus.

In the evening of my life

I shall look to the sunset

At that moment in my life when the night due

And the questions I shall ask only I can answer

Was I brave and strong and true?

Did I fill the world with love my whole life through?

Greater freedom

There will come that moment in our life when we return to our original inspiration, to the dream that beckoned us—and will always continue to beckon—to take our life journey, to live out our mission and to “sing from our soul.” We will re-member and reconnect. Renewed and re-integrated, we once more take the journey with greater freedom and a greater capacity to live out the mission.

Our story and the song of our soul will always lead us back to the cycle, to the journey of a life well-lived—lived with meaning and dedication to a dream, a mission with great love and a great soul.