of Foil: A foil is
generally a character whose traits emphasize the strengths of another
character, usually the protagonist. For example, the often short-sighted
opinions of Dr. Watson emphasize the brilliance of Sherlock Holmes. Less usual is a plot foil, a subplot that contrasts
with the main plot and brings it into sharper focus. The light-hearted romance
between Nerissa and Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice highlights the
more serious courtship of Portia and Bassanio. The term "foil" comes
from the practice of placing a piece of metallic foil under a gemstone to make
it appear to shine more. (chegg.com)
Just as I was walking into my 11am meeting, my partner called my cell phone. Since this is not a typical thing, I paused outside the door of my meeting to answer. He had just finished a pastoral visit with our friends. He was letting me know that within 24 hours, our friend would be going into surgery to remove a baseball size brain tumor that was unknown to anyone just 36 hours earlier. Sadness, fear, grief all gripped me in that moment. A foil to all of the excitement and light around me.
Last week, I received a call from a friend who is volunteering with a suicide crisis hotline. There had been a particularly difficult call. A variety of emotions were competing for attention - sadness, empathy, compassion, pride and happiness. The outcome was a foil to the knowledge that my friend had done good work, said the right things, and was resting in the reality that there was not more that a person could do.
This concept is where I rest this week. Where does the bad sharpen the image of the good? Does it make it sweeter, sharper, more real? Does all that is around you draw out your strengths as a leader? As we seek to bring change to the world, does our passion and intensity contrast the complacency of others?
As we engage the world around us, I wholeheartedly believe - YES! As we celebrate together, we also prepare for discourse. As we work to grow and learn, we may argue and grow frustrated. That is our foil as organizations. As individuals, you may be elected to the position you have dreamed of while your parents announce a divorce. You achieve a 4.0 only to discover betrayal from a loved one. This is the foil of individuals. But, we are here together to reflect that greater light... The "practice of placing a piece of metallic foil under a gemstone to make it appear to shine more."
Blessings to you all, my friends, as we begin a semester together.