The Heart of Business

Bill Weaver, who runs Media that Matters each May at Hollyhock, produced a film some 15 years ago called The Heart of Business. It featured, among others, a Victoria entrepreneur named Heather Fox who had begun a line of hand-painted clothing. Heather had once been a hospice worker. Years of that intense, deliberate, caring work had taken its toll, and she realized she needed to take some time to bring color and artistry back into her life.

There was a scene in that film - that remains vivid in my memory - of Heather strolling, on an overcast west coast day, through a cemetery lightly covered in snow, stating with absolute assurance: “I never, ever, heard a dying. There was a scene in that film - that remains vivid in my memory - of Heather strolling, on an overcast west coast person say they wished they’d spent more time working.” At Renewal over the last year, we’ve witnessed both the magic of modern medicine and the heartbreak when nothing can help: Joel’s new kidney, a gift from Shivon. And most recently, Robert Huber’s death - tragically early, but a graceful closure to a life richly lived.

Martha Burton, Robert’s wife, has worked for nearly 30 years with Joel, and she came to Vancouver to help birth Renewal into existence. However, these last many months, Martha remained vigilant at Robert’s side - a devoted midwife to his passing. At his memorial service, I listened, spellbound to reflections on Robert’s profound presence and grace in life and facing death. Many had came to pay their respects and support Martha. I realized what a privilege it is to be part of a diverse community of people working, living and now grieving together: friends and family, colleagues, investees, grantees, co-workers, partners, loved ones. How grateful and awed I was to see her surrounded by such caring, such dedication, such genuine wealth and abundance.

Heather was of course right - it is not just about working harder or making more money. But the culture of business does a good job of distracting us so we think that that is the end game and what we’re here to do. At Renewal, we are trying to change that. The essence or heart of our business is about figuring out how to better take care of the world, each other, and ourselves.

As deeply saddened as I am by the circumstances, I am grateful to be reminded that taking care includes taking the time to slow down, and enjoy our precious lives, and each other, while we can.