My Two Cents
January 1, 2019, 12:00 AM

January, 2019

Blessed or lucky? The distinction is important, don’t you think?

September, 1957 was when the musical West Side Story opened and those nine African American   students bravely walked into Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. These important national events explain why the world didn’t pay more attention to the birth of Charlie and Susie’s fourth and final child. How lucky was I to be born into such a family and at such a time. Lucky, not blessed.

A few years later, summer of 1966, while our family was vacationing in central Illinois the phone rang in my Aunt Lynette’s house where we were all playing cards. The voice on the other end delivered the news that my dad would be deployed to Viet Nam. A month later the Air Force decided my dad had served his time in conflicts overseas and allowed him to retire instead of shipping out. We all felt so lucky. Lucky, not blessed.

In April, 1968, we shook our heads in sadness when Walter Cronkite told us of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the evening news. But we were gathered in front of the TV in our home located in a bucolic all-white subdivision where life pretty much went on as usual the next day- while the nation’s capital just up the road    began to tear apart at the seams. We were lucky. But we weren’t blessed.

How lucky are most of us who are reading this? Where we were born, who surrounded us in our early years, who took an interest in us in the classroom, who forgave us when we didn’t deserve it, who saved for our college, who decided to go to seminary the same year we did, and all the calamities that could have happened to us, but didn’t. Lucky, yes. But blessed? I don’t know.

As we look around us in January of 2019, we see beauty everywhere. But we also see so much misery. How do we suppose the refugees who were forced to leave their homes with no real place to go rang in the New Year? I wonder if the Florida family that lost their little girl this year while she was standing at her hallway locker stayed up all night to see the ball drop. Were there any celebrations this New Year’s Eve in Paradise, California?

Life unfolds for all of us in so many ways. Sometimes we get lucky. Other times not so much. But, in the midst of our lives let’s all be careful when we use that word “blessed”. To be granted a blessing implies a grantor of some kind- which is fine when things go well, but a little harder to reconcile with a loving God, when things go south.

And while we are being careful with our language this year, there’s nothing that should stop us from BEING a blessing to others who are lucky enough to cross our paths!

Shalom, Rick