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Yes, I’m among the many who forgot today was Columbus Day… And was abruptly reminded when I bumped into the “closed” sign at the post office. “What?? Why? Oh, yeah. That’s right!” Columbus Day is a U.S. holiday that commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492. And with so many reminders that Columbus wasn’t the first resident at this party, I think I’ve given up seeing it as much of a celebration. However, when I return to my own growing up in grade school past, I am reminded that my favorite history classes and book chapters were the ones on, of all things, the explorers! I can still remember my book report on Hernando do Soto, my fascination that the Hudson river was named after some guy named Henry. Other memorable names included Vasco DaGamma, Francisco Pizzaro and Ponce de Leon who looked for the fountain of youth in Florida (and instead discovered a retirement village?) And, of course, Christopher Columbus. “Sail on. Sail on. Sail on and on!” So, we now know many of these explorers and “conquistadors” were undoubtably racists.. that’s a given. But, there are still we can still celebrate and learn from…. They courageously said goodbye to their lands and homes and set out to explore and find better things in lands no one they knew had either been to, seen or come back from. They were pioneers. 
And Christopher Columbus, like any of us had his sins and his foibles. (And for Columbus, his were much, much more than most!) He enslaved and tortured native people. He treated his own sailors poorly. He likely didn’t get to North America as we now know it. (On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus set foot on the fine white sands of an island in the Bahamas) But, writes of Christopher Columbus

He may never have reached Asia as planned, but one cannot discount the sheer will required to make his journey. At the age of 41, he defied naysayers across Europe and led four voyages across an uncharted ocean in wooden sailing ships that were not designed to take on the punishing waters of the Atlantic.

Among all the bad and even horrendous there are 4 things we can all learn from, even emulate Columbus.

1. He was excellent in his craft.

Columbus was an excellent navigator, a courageous explorer and an able captain. Though his father was a respectable middle-class man who made a career of weaving wool, Columbus had bigger plans and heard the call of the ocean. Christopher Columbus set about learning his trade as a teenager, traveling the trade routes across Europe to learn navigation.

Be excellent in yours too! Do what you do best… even if it’s snot what dad did!

2. He had a desire to do something he saw as worthwhile and was willing to hear “no” from many others before he gained support.

Christopher Columbus spent 20 years traveling through Europe trying to meet with any royalty who would listen to his wild pitch. He presented his concept to the king of Portugal, possibly as early as 1471, then years later, to England and France. Every time he was rejected.

Penniless and out of options, Columbus and his young son Diego finally wandered into a monastery in Spain. Columbus had no idea these monastics were connected to the king and queen of Spain, who would ultimately become his backers.

What do you desire enough to persevere against the “no’s?”

3. He was misunderstood from those close to him and persevered anyway.

He commanded sailors who believed the Atlantic Ocean was full of sea serpents intent on devouring seaman. They thought the Atlantic an infinite sea that boiled at the equator. Fear gripped them constantly.

Whether Columbus knew better or not, he needed to continually overcome the false beliefs of others.

What fears or false beliefs stand in your way?

4. He believed God had called him to make his voyages and by doing so he fulfilling his destiny.

Many of the names Columbus gave to the lands he discovered were religious names. The very name “Christopher” means “bearer of Christ’s light.”

Do you see yourself as called to a bigger purpose?

OK... Columbus ... good things.

  • Excellent in craft

  • Desire to do something he saw as worthwhile

  • Misunderstood and yet persevered

  • Sought to fulfill a bigger destiny

Columbus Day… Of course, this may be oversimpligying things that are super complex. But, these are 4 good things to learn.. besides the post office being closed!

PS.Oh, yeah. Don't forget that story in The Habits of Hopetakes place over Columbus Day weekend up in the Adirondacks! Be sure to get your copy!

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