"I've had two profoundly humbling days in my life. The first was the day my son was born. The second was that unforgettable day at the Auction House."
This is how David, one of the participants in a session I recently facilitated, began to answer the question I had just posed to the group, "When in your life have you set a big goal and had no idea at the time how you were going to make it happen?"
Generations before David was born, eighty acres of their small family farm was separated and willed to a distant relative. Coming from a long line of farmers David heard this story over and over as a child, and it fueled a passion within him to make the family farm whole again.
In 2011, David and his family learned that the precious eighty acres was going to be sold at auction within a couple of weeks. Suddenly at the ripe old age of twenty-something David needed to figure out how to find an extraordinarily large sum of money. "Even though I had dreamed of getting the land back for as long as I could remember, when the day came, I wasn't ready." He knew in his heart he had to give his very best effort - and after two weeks of sleepless nights, meticulous planning and creative thinking he and his father came up with their ‘best number’, and headed for auction.
When they walked through the door of the Auction House that night their hearts immediately sunk. The place was packed with more than two hundred farmers, most of whom had much larger farms, more resources and could outbid him and his father many times over. The Auctioneer called the session to order and asked for the first bid. David and his dad looked at each other, took a deep breath, and made theirs. The Auctioneer acknowledged their bid, and then called for a second.
Silence fell over the room.
After many attempts to solicit another bid, the Auctioneer took a break. When they reconvened, a second bid was once again called for; silence. Three times they took breaks, each time the room remained completely silent. Finally, the Auctioneer had no choice but to award David and his father the winning bid. The family farm was once again complete. David and his father were stunned – and humbled.
The emotion on David’s face and in his voice as he told us his story was powerful, and had the other participants and me leaning forward, hanging on his every word. After David finished his story I asked him what he thought had occurred in the Auction House that night, and without missing a beat, he looked at me with even more emotion, and replied, “Respect.”
Like the farmers in the Auction House, the participants and I sat silent for many moments as we contemplated David’s answer. I remember my first thought was, “There it is, there’s another example of what’s right with our world; community.”
There are enough of us out there collecting stories of what’s going wrong with our world - I want to be a collector of stories like this one; stories that remind me that there’s far more going right out there than there is wrong.
Dewitt says, “If we believe it, we’ll see it.” I think this is as true for how David and his dad found a way to get their land back, as it is for finding stories of what’s right with the world.