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Hidden Talents


My buddy Nagy – of blessed memory – used to visit James in a Los Angeles County Jail where he was fighting a capital case for 9 1/2 years, trying to avoid the death sentence if found guilty. Nagy suggested I might enjoy ministering to James via letter. It has become a two-way street. James inspires me.

For more than 7 years, I have printed off issues of this newsletter for James and written him letters. (I also print and send him Wikipedia articles on topics he asks about.) About two years ago, my beloved Jane started writing to James also.

James tells me that he sometimes shares what I write with members of T.R.Y. – Truly Redefine Yourself – a group of which he is a founding member.

Today I want share with you wisdom from my teacher James – an adult in custody serving a life-sentence at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, CA. It is taken from the opening page of the third chapter of a book he is working on.


There are banks all over the country with millions of dollars in savings accounts whose owners in most cases have forgotten their existence. After accounts have been inactive for a certain period, the bank authorities try to contact depositors through last known addresses. If these efforts fail, the bank is obligated to place the amount of deposit in what is known as a dormant ledger.

Did you know that the word “talent” is a Greek word which in ancient times was a unit of currency? By ancient standards, it was a real large sum of money.

The dictionary defines talent as: any natural ability or power; a superior ability in an art, etc.

James has more to say on the subject. But, I want to stop here.

Contemplate your hidden talents.

What might you NOT be sharing with the world?
What natural ability, superior ability are you not sharing?

And, why? What secret benefit might you gain by not sharing your fullest with the world?

Different people’s answers are different.
And, I’m curious for you to think about yours.

Another way of asking the same questions:
Do you shine as brightly as you should? Why not?

For me, the answer for me is no.

I do not. I do not shine as much as I could.
I do not shine as much as I should.
I know that.

I am not sharing my talents as much as I should be with the world.
I am not asking you to have me invited to your houses of worship.
I am not asking people who could be of greater financial support to this ministry to do so.
I am not running very large programs.

I know that my calling is to play it bigger.
I know that I need to get over my fears and to do that.

And, why? What secret benefit might I gain by not sharing my fullest with the world?
I’m secretly afraid that if I make this ministry larger, if I reach out to touch many more people’s lives, you will think me egotistical, distant, or full of crap.
I’m afraid you won’t like me. And I really want you to like me.

How about you?

Do you shine as brightly as you should?
Are you sitting on inactive, dormant ledgers?
And, what are you going to do about it?

If you want to send letter or donations to James please send to me and I will forward them. Rabbi Brian, 1832 NE Broadway, Portland, OR 97232

#wisdom_biscuit: shine!

Visit Rabbi Brian’s website Religion Outside the Box

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