footprintsIt’s just by the grace of God. It’s always been by the grace of God.

Long ago in my first kitchen, Mary, the prep cook, used to say “Lord have mercy,” over and over, or just “Mercy,” for short. Robert, the broiler cook, sang in the church choir, and there was never concern about who was a believer and who was not. Everyone was a believer.

Back then there were agnostics and atheists, but they stayed in the background and stayed quiet. It wasn’t cool to be a not believer. We didn’t have cable TV, and on regular TV they only had religious shows which if you didn’t want to watch you didn’t watch. That’s still true today—you don’t have to watch—but I can’t ever remember a show that mocked believers and scoffed at God, shows which exist today and would have you feel stupid for putting your faith in something we can’t empirically verify.

Stupid?  Silly? Foolish? Why?

In my time I’ve been through atheist and agnostic periods. Those happened in college. I’ve also been through very religious times, formal religious times. Through everything, though, when push came to shove, the prayers always included help from God. Or, like the Footprints poem, Footprints In The Sand, God  was there always, right with me and standing by me, whether I wanted to acknowledge Him or not.

So I’ve been visiting someone in the hospital since Friday and the woman in the next bed, I learned, was outside feeding the birds and when she came in there was a nail sticking up on her deck and it caught on her slipper and she fell, fell down the deck stairs and broke her hip and a couple of ribs. She lay in the snow for several hours before she was found and taken to the hospital.

There but for the grace of God… And, “Lord have mercy.”

They did a hip replacement and she was okay the first two days but then something happened. Last we heard they were doing a cat scan and then sending her to ICU.

How much we take for granted! It’s all by the grace of God.

Light Cover page working_new2I’ll have a novel coming out on Amazon soon, maybe within a couple of weeks. One of the essential questions it considers is why one dog in a shelter gets a great home when the one next to it gets euthanized. Or, why was my father not shot by the Nazis when the two prisoners in front of him were? Or why did I get busted at that protest at OSU when actually I’d gone to see a professor about my writing? Or why did the dorm tough leave me alone when he confronted me? Or why was I in the workhouse when Newman King was there? He was in for drunk driving and his family wouldn’t pay the fine, so he had to work it off. My wife and I paid it off for him so he could get out. It took every last penny we had. He paid us back too.

Lord Have Mercy. Robert used to sing that out often. Weepy-eyed Robert, dressed in workhouse blues, was sweeping out the City Hall Annex when I went to see my probation officer. I offered him a cigarette. He said, “No thank you baby. I don’t smoke.” A month later, he was the one who got me a job in the restaurant where he was the broiler cook. He was doing a favor for the probation officer and didn’t know it was me until he saw me and remembered our little encounter.

There’s a lot to say on this subject. I think it’s much cooler to believe than not. I don’t see how all that  exists could be without some grand plan. I don’t see how control, for us is anything more than an illusion.

And there but for the grace of God…