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I see a news story that fascinates me. It is not another piece about the growing inhumanity in our society. It is a feel good story. Since 2009 Michelle Obama starts the tradition of colouring the fountain water in front of the White House green. It is a way to remember St. Patrick’s Day. Today we take a much-needed break from all the bad news stories we are bombarded with to think about fun, laughter, singing and telling jokes. Doing all these things makes us feel life is a gift we share with others.
While St. Patrick’s Day is associated with having the luck of the Irish, I suggest it has a deeper significance. I don’t believe in luck—that fate or destiny decides whether we will have a smooth or rough life. There is something far more powerful than these myths. What I do think is more important is how we reach out and help one another through our struggles. It means being that caring other for someone in need.
In my childhood I enjoy searching for those rare four leaf clovers among the many ordinary three leaf ones. The belief is to find one is to bring good luck to its owner. We know that the four leaf clover has no power to bestow good fortune upon those who find one. These are the stories found in fairy tales.
Most lottery winners have a tragic end. Many end up in bankruptcy or have a terminal illness within a few years . It is only a small percentage of people who say winning a lottery improves their lives.
When I am a pastor in Timmins, Ontario, I see many people in the taverns. They gamble away at least half or more of their pay cheques. That elusive win hooks them. There is that rare time someone wins, making others believe that Lady Luck will strike for them. Sadly, it becomes an addiction that robs them and their families of quality of life. Many will end up losing their family, career and home in that hope for a better, wealthier tomorrow that never comes.
Some choose to believe in luck. I choose to believe our life is a gift from God. Critics will say luck decides whether we are born rich, poor or somewhere in between. Whether you have a good or bad life is the “luck of the draw.” As I look back upon the struggles in my life, I confess there are times I believed what the critics said. I yelled at God saying my circumstances were so unfair. Why couldn’t He have given me an easier life? Why did I have to walk a road of illness with an extremely rare auto immune condition called mastocytosis? Why did I have to be abused by my schizophrenic father? Why did my wife and I have to have the humiliation of going to a food bank for three days of food? Why did I have to feel the scorn of a woman, when trying to sell the remaining amount on my phone card, for a bus ticket to go home? Why did I have to be put in the position of asking help from friends for the medications my government would not provide? I would complain about my unlucky lot in life. What I failed to see is my life had nothing to do with good or bad luck. It is simply the path God calls me to walk and learn from.
I had to experience these awful things to understand and know how best to alleviate the suffering of others. I had to learn that no matter how much I experience injustice in my life and the lives of others, I will never be able to correct it. Humankind’s inhumanity will always be a reality because we live in an imperfect world. We all struggle with the darkness within us, but we also have the light within as well. If you lift one person from hopelessness to hope, that is special and beautiful.
This quote from Helen Keller sums up my philosophy on life. “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.” The darkness is still there, but you see more of the light — that hope can still beat in the human heart. We have the capacity given by God to show people the sun in their darkness by being that caring soul, who is there, really there for others.
Perhaps, you feel you are unlucky. You could have been born into a richer family. This would have given you better opportunities in life. Logically this is true. Coming from a richer family enhances the opportunities for the schools you can go to and the career you will have. But there are wealthy young people who squander the opportunities given to them. They fail to appreciate the gift of a quality education. They don’t have to work hard to be accepted at elite universities like Harvard or Oxford. Then, there are the poor and middle class students, who study hard to maintain having scholarships and bursaries. Luck has nothing to do with their success in life. It is more of a case of their attitude affecting their altitude – of how they succeed in life. I’m not thinking though of the worldly view of success, but moreover being a person who strives to make a difference in the lives of others.
I leave you with this thought.
Kevin Osborne is training to become a psychotherapist, priest and chaplain through St. James the Elder University in Jacksonville, Florida. He and his wife, Karen, plan to open a counselling practice. Karen is taking graduate divinity studies at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. Kevin is planning on taking additional graduate studies there. He is a member of The Word Guild, a Christian writer’s group in Canada.
Our greatest calling is to be servants of our Lord wherever He calls us to go.