God surprises us sometimes with relational encouragement found in unlikely places. In doing so he may even use voices from the long-forgotten past.

I experienced an example of this recently on a trip Janet and I took with our grandson, Nathan. It was our high school graduation gift to him that was delayed three years because of the Covid Pandemic.

When it comes to gifts and presents I’ve come to appreciate how providing an experience can be more valuable than a physical present. Both the giver and receiver can find relational encouragement when sharing an experience. It was certainly true for us as grandparents, and from what I gather, it was true for our grandson as well.

Shakespeare still speaks to us today

Our trip with him included a stop at a Shakespeare museum. It was one of the things he wanted to do.  As we walked in the door I was immediately grabbed by a quote from Shakespeare found across the side of an information desk in unmistakably large letters. It was from The Merchant of Venice, Act III, scene 2

“I wish you all the joy that you can wish.”    

Relational encouragement from 1605

The Merchant of Venice was first performed in 1605, and now four centuries later it still continues to exemplify an encouraging relational principle. Namely, wish the best for someone. Wish that whatever they wish for will come true. Join with them in wishing that joy fills their life to the full.

Even if the things you wish for in your life have not come true, wish the best for someone else. May they experience all the joy that is missing in your own life.  Make it about them. Not about you. And in making it about them, it will in some measure be about you, too.

There’s so much joy and heartfelt longing for the best in others found in these 10 simple but loaded words. I find them quite gripping. I wish you all the joy that you can wish.

Another gem of relational encouragement

Above the ticket booth at this same Shakespeare museum, in even larger letters than those on the information desk, appeared this quote from the bard:

“And now let’s go hand in hand, not one before another.” The Comedy of Errors, Act VI, Scene 1

Maybe the museum officials directed this quote to school children touring the museum. Perhaps their intent was to facilitate order.

But I like to think of it as a relationally encouraging perspective on doing life together with people. Do so hand in hand with each other, with no one competing to be ahead of the other. The sentence just drips with engaged community so needed in our day. I can see why the museum highlighted this quote.

An amusing observation

Shortly after I spotted this The Comedy of Errors quote, our grandson Nathan whispered, “It says the line is from Act VI, scene 1, but there are only five acts in the play.”

We encouraged him to mention this to the person in the ticket booth, but he declined. I wasn’t certain Nathan was correct, so I didn’t want to say anything either. And unlike so many people these days who rush to Google on their phones for any fact-checking issues, I just let the matter drop. It wasn’t that important.

But then a few days after we returned home, I dusted off my old Shakespeare anthology from college and looked up The Comedy of Errors. And sure enough, the play has 5 acts, not 6. In fact, all of Shakespeare’s plays are in 5 acts.

“And now let’s go hand in hand, not one before another” actually appears in Act 5, scene 1, line 440.

I found strange delight in discovering this error for it lessened the irritation I had with myself for a typo I found in a recent blog post I wrote.

However, a few days later reality set in when I considered maybe this “error” was not an error at all. I bet they intentionally gave an incorrect citing of the line which would be in keeping with the title of the play, The Comedy of Errors.

Yeah, I bet that’s what they did. They sure got me.  LIQ!  (laugh Inside Quietly)

What About You?

I wonder what relational encouragement you may have drawn from the two Shakespearean quotes I mentioned. I’ve been thinking about both of them for days now.

Wouldn’t you like to be a person who could honestly say to someone, “I wish you all the joy that you can wish?”  I know I would. I’d like to be a person like this.

Do you have people in your life who would join you in living life where you each “go hand in hand, not one before another?”  

This is one kind of relationship I would like.

Other Relationship Resources

Last week’s blog post, “Relational Observations for May 2023”

Episode 139 of You Were Made for This, “Why Should I Listen to this Podcast?

THEM -The Richer Life Found in Caring for Others

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