I have a friend who is sick… again. I have another friend who is jobless. Another whose marriage is failing. Another who is far, far from home. And another… And another… Each of them are facing the future with all the courage they can muster, though a shallow fear may be lying just below the surface. To whom should I turn with my concern for each?
In contrast, I have found increasing abundance. There are a myriad of tiny blessings in every moment. When I reach out and pick up my child, hold her in my arms and feel her breath on my ear when she says, “I love you, Daddy;” there are a million facets required to experience something so simple yet so profound. They should be duly noted, correctly attributed, and faithfully called out, each in turn. And then: appreciation. To whom should my gratitude be directed for all that I have; all that I am? To what do I owe my undeserved fortune?
To God, perhaps? I think so. And maybe this gratitude is a simple act of faith and humility, courage and conviction, and the absolute surrender of any semblance of control. I am responsible for my own actions and reactions, but certainly not for anything else… Though I may work hard to understand and appreciate, I created neither the mind nor the heart that makes it possible.
I am reminded a quote I’ve heard only a few times but remember well:
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.”
– Abraham Lincoln
If Lincoln, accomplished and successful as he was, was driven to his knees to find solace, strength, and peace– especially in light of the crisis he was facing– that’s good enough for me, too.
[Ed. note: Speaking of Lincoln, I highly recommend this short piece by Jamie Stiehm discussing his “Farewell to Springfield.” It’s a wonderful, humanizing look at this eloquent man who could speak off the cuff as perfectly as if he’d been toiling over drafts for days… And here is yet another account of the entire day, especially noting the time spent in Indianapolis, well documented and artfully expressed by Ted Widmer of the New York Times.]