I can’t help but wonder what holds people together when the world seems to be falling apart.
I recently finished reading the life history of Alexander Hamilton, and though he lived in the best of times when the United States held dear the most glorious truths of humanity, he also knew the bloody hell of a war with a mother country, the broken ideology of friends who had lost their way, internal strife, and the heartbreak of personal guilt.
Despite all his heroic accomplishments, he died in a fruitless duel, leaving his family in serious debt. A sad story. But one that didn’t end there.
Because the story never really ends.
Hamilton left an economic and literate foundation upon which many others would build a first-world nation. His widow, Eliza, turned out to be a remarkable person in her own right. She established an orphanage and helped her children to become the best they could be in a world that forever needs talented, honest men and women.
Every human being past and present shapes the reality we now enjoy or despise. We’re all playing the role of builder or destroyer, aide or accomplice.
As I peered out the window of the seventh floor of a hotel on a recent Monday morning, I watched traffic make way for a funeral procession. Cars along the road respected the trailing assembly — no angry horns, just dignified acceptance. A blessed relief for the mourners, I’m sure.
The waitress who served my breakfast made the tense day calmer when she not only amended my order to accommodate my choice of breakfast fare, she even gave me a free coffee to go. Did she know that I was stressed? Probably not. But her kindness soothed my soul, and I prayed to God for her generous spirit. A decent return for a cup of coffee.
As I navigated my way through downtown St. Louis and promptly found myself in a bind, unable to cross two lanes of traffic because trucks whizzing by at the speed of light didn’t give me much option, I found myself stuck — either going the wrong way or stopping where no sane person would stop. But someone in a small white car motioned me ahead and let me through, allowing my heart to pump once again. His or her act of kindness not only avoided an accident, but he or she proved once again that our roadways work, despite our human frailty when we give a bit of space rather than an angry retort and speed ahead.
Grace is defined as the life of God in the soul. For those without faith in the existence of God, then it must be up to them to make this world work. A scary proposition in my book. Too many random impediments fly into the wheels of my life to make a personal choice the only option. Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, I find myself facing an unlooked-for enemy, a furious relation, a blind mourner, a senseless sickness, or a concrete meridian dividing me from where I really want to go.
People of good faith, those who may not declare their faith, but live it, who pull aside respectfully when mourners pass, who make that extra effort without counting the cost, who don’t look to ridicule and blame, who wave the lost forward, and calmly live moment-by-moment goodwill.
So when the world does seem to be falling apart, I don’t get too worried. We’ve lost battles before. We’ve traveled down the wrong road. We are frail, often confused, angry, frightened, and disenchanted.
But along with Hamilton and Eliza and all men and women of goodwill, we can move forward, making the day better for someone, believing, forever, in a grace that lives beyond ourselves.
Copyright 2020 Ann K. Frailey