When I was 11 years old, every Friday my dad made me write a personal letter to a woman he hardly knew. The woman’s name was Miss Miller, and she was my sixth-grade teacher at St. Mark Catholic Grade School. I don’t remember if it was her idea or his idea. All I remember is that after she called him on the phone a few times to complain about my behavior in class, they developed a scheme in which I was forced to write the following letter on a blank sheet of paper every week:
Last week I wrote about my five-year-old grandson, Liam, who was scheduled to have open-heart surgery on Tuesday, October 13. At the end of my article, I asked for prayers for Liam. I’m happy to report that the surgery was successful. The surgeon was able to apply a patch that was a little larger than a dime to the hole in Liam’s heart, and after the surgery, Liam’s heart rhythm was normal, and he was placed in the intensive care unit.
There’s an emotional roller coaster that people have been on since March of this year. That’s when our country was locked down because of the COVID-19 virus. During the first couple of months of the lockdown, the roller coaster took people down into the depths of uncertainty and doubt. Then it seemed as though it was heading toward what appeared to be a light at the end of a tunnel. But last week, the roller coaster took a sharp turn and catapulted toward a new abyss of fear and uncertainty.
The foundation upon which the United States of America was built consisted of two religions: a secular religion that was based on the beliefs and principles of individualism, self-reliance, freedom, hard work, patriotism, and independence, and a biblical religion that was based on the beliefs and principles of the 10 Commandments, the God of the Old Testament, and the teachings of the Son of God.
There are several ugly truths about life that most of us ignore. I want to cover two of those ugly truths today. The first is that the path through life is fraught with uncertainty. The second is that by the time we’re mature adults, we have had experience with the first truth, but most of the time, we tuck it away into a deep dark corner of our minds. Then we go on with our lives behaving as though the first truth does not exist.
Last week, I wrote about how we spend a good part of our lives in sorrow because of suffering that is, in most cases, unavoidable. I provided a short but specific definition of the word “suffer,” which is, “to undergo or feel pain or distress.” I then provided the definition of “sorrow,” which is “a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.”
About 10 years ago, I attended a four-day marketing conference in Chicago. One of the speakers was a young woman who was in her early 30s and was a well-known expert in email marketing. In one of her presentations, she talked about how she hires other people to do what she considers non-essential tasks — grocery shopping, meal preparation, and house cleaning — so she can spend her time on higher value activities.
When I was 12 years old, I took over a paper route delivering newspapers for the Peoria Journal Star. The route included the neighborhood that I grew up in, which consisted of several of my relatives. The first year that I had my paper route, I was pleasantly surprised when I received gifts from several of my customers during the Christmas season.