Bishop David Oakley, Bishop of Northampton, appeared on BBC Radio 2’s Pause For Thought on Tuesday 14 September and was invited to reflect on his proudest achievement.
He ended up taking a journey into himself:
“Ancient Greek philosophers taught that a fulfilled life begins with self-knowledge. Know thyself is an abiding foundation for happiness and contentment. And this is what I want to share with you today.”
My new watch tells me, amongst other things, my heart rate and how many steps I take. If I don’t hit my self-imposed targets, a little message appears, tips for a better well-being. I don’t worry too much about these passive aggressive tips. To be honest, I’m more interested in the steps I’m taking into my inner being.
This week, we are thinking about my greatest achievement. I thought of telling you about my academic degrees; not bad for someone who had to leave school in the sixth form. My life as a priest was another option. Good going for someone told by his primary school headteacher, nothing good will come of you boy. But no, these things don’t hit the spot. I want to share with you something of my journey into myself. My greatest achievement.
Ancient Greek philosophers taught that a fulfilled life begins with self-knowledge. Know thyself is an abiding foundation for happiness and contentment. And this is what I want to share with you today.
One of my favourite people in history is a young French woman called Therese Martin. She lived in the nineteenth century. She didn’t live long in this world and if you knew about her, I doubt you would give her a second thought. As a child, she was sensitive and burst into tears. Well that was me, and in truth, well beyond my childhood. Therese had an experience one Christmas Eve, which turned all this around. She wrote about it, a personal story which has inspired me and so many others since to begin on that inner journey by taking time to think more about others than about myself.
Her story led me to a great discovery. Like little Therese, when life throws bad things at us, we don’t have to give in to understandable feelings of hurt. When people were unkind to Therese, she responded with charity. It’s not always easy to do that. But the journey into herself led Therese to a bold confidence in her self-knowledge.
Imagine if my watch could give me tips on loving others. Then, no matter what life throws at me, that would definitely be my greatest achievement.