Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28: Saint Samson

One of my biggest character flaws, not all the time but sometimes, is pride.  It usually manifests itself when I'm reading a particularly bad poem.  (I can't count how many times friends have handed me a poem written by one of their children and gushed, "Isn't it good?")  When I go to an amateur musical or concert, an off-key singer can send me into paroxysms of cringing and whispered profanity.  I tell you this not because I think pride is something to be, well, proud about.  I tell you this to give you a context for today's post.

The saint d'jour is Samson, a fifth century Welsh bishop.  He did a lot of amazing things, but one line in his biography stood out for me:  "As time went on, the gift of miracles, which he already enjoyed, attracted so much attention that his humility could not tolerate it."  So he returns to his homeland and lives "as a hermit on the banks of the Severn."

As a writer, I don't comprehend this retreat from notoriety.  Most writers want fame, crave it.  Even J. D. Salinger, before he became the Bigfoot of the publishing world, was already really, really famous and really, really rich.  Then, he locked himself away and started suing anyone who tried to take a snapshot of him.  Humility is not a natural state for writers.  We act humble, but, in reality, we'd set ourselves on fire to get someone to notice us.

But, God has a way of deflating ego balloons.  That's what an e-mail I got today reminded me.  I don't generally pass on forwarded messages, but this one is too good to ignore.

So, here is the e-mail, corrected and edited a little bit by me (I am a published writer, after all):


A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door.

He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car, shouting, “What was that all about and who are you? Just what the hell are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money!”

The young boy was apologetic. ”Please, mister... Please. I'm sorry, but I didn't know what else to do.” He pleaded, “I threw the brick because no one else would stop...”  With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car.  “It's my brother,” he said. “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair, and I can't lift him up.”  Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt, and he's too heavy for me.”

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly-swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay.

“Thank you and may God bless you,” the grateful child told the stranger.

Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home.

It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: “Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!”

God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes, when we don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It's our choice to listen or not.

Thought for the Day: God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

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