From week to week, I really don’t know what to expect when it comes to what winds up in my email box as far as reactions to what I write. At times, someone will correct my faulty memory if the column is a reminiscence and I somehow skewed my compass-point references. Certainly, that’s OK. Trust me, folks. I’ve long ago come to grips with my own fallibility.
However, most who take the time to email me a reaction to a column are overwhelmingly nice, which is the way I perceive most in our town to be. Last week’s offering prompted several to offer some words of encouragement for presenting a tale of an overheard conversation in a McDonald’s in Dublin just outside of Columbus, one between a young lady and her mom and dad.
From the snippets of conversation that are impossible not to hear at a McD’s, given the close proximity of those who reach for another golden fry and the sound-carrying quarry-tile floors, the young woman with head fully covered by a scarf was facing the biggest challenge of her life. The bite to eat followed an appointment, one accompanied by Mom and Dad, at the James Cancer Center.
Now, if you missed last week’s piece, the scenario I witnessed came at a time when I’d just received the news from our fair city’s engineering office that I was on the hook for $1,200 worth of sidewalk repairs. In the midst of my grousing about that unexpected financial encumbrance, I had to be reminded of something I should have already known: That, generally, a look around any room will present to us someone else facing far more adversity than we are.
The three I saw and overheard made small talk and conjured up shared memories as a means to demonstrate the positivity needed when we are forced to confront crises. Surely, they would have traded their troubles for mine in a heartbeat to slough themselves of their current realities.
Among the reactions I received after the column ran, one email in particular stood out, one that most certainly is an affirmation of a cliché, the one most have used on occasion when circumstance places people together in a setting so very unexpected.
It was from a young man named Joe and read as follows:
Thank you for your latest article “Potholes and Sinkholes” and, more importantly, your prayers regarding my wife Joanne and her parents, Tom and Sue. Small world that you sit in a McDonald’s in Columbus and overhear a conversation from folks from Lima. I am blessed that you are encouraged and may others be also.
Thanks again… God is good.
Phil. 2: 14-18
As I typed my response to Joe, something I always do whenever someone takes the time to say something nice to me, I thought about all of the Joes and Joannes and Toms and Sues out there facing their most difficult moments with indomitable spirits and boundless hope.
To you, Joe, Joanne, Tom and Sue and the rest of your family and friends, please know that many who read of your challenge will pray for you, in some cases, entire prayer groups. I know this because Ann Baker took the time to tell me of her group. After all, there’s no rule that says you need to know people personally to pray for them. Thanks to your email, Joe, it also compelled me to do something, admittedly, I should do a lot more often, which is pick up my Bible to read the verse, Philippians 2: 14-18.
There is no better way to end my prose this week than by transcribing the verse that has inspired you. Here’s hoping it will inspire the rest of us as we continue to try to fill your sinkhole one prayer at a time:
“Do all things without murmuring and without questioning, so as to be blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a depraved and perverse generation. For among these you shine like stars in the world, holding fast the word of life to my glory against the day of Christ; because not in vain have I run, neither in vain have I labored. But even if I am made the libation for the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you. And, in the same way do you also joy and rejoice with me.”
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.