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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
              Monday, October 15 2001 

Lessons learned

My reflection on how my brother Gary's near-death accidental burn injury when he was five years old changed much (and perhaps everything) about our family's inner dynamic stemmed from reflecting on how the terror attacks of September 11 changed us, and especially what "good" changes seem to have resulted from the catastrophe. Our family's crisis 55 years ago, I believe but can't prove, drove Mother to a deeper religious commitment and experience (that could have happened without the crisis and its subsequent "miraculous" outcome ...anything's possible). Also, though it wasn't apparent until two decades later, the events worked together to crack the shell under which my father buried his spiritual side. Gary and I were raised more carefully and definitely more prayerfully than our older siblings, and I was nudged toward ministry from childhood.

More apparent than these speculative benefits was the immediate and continuing blessing of gratefulness on my parents' part. Without this crisis, they may have gone through life much more cynical and self-centered. But dozens of people, many whom they didn't know or know at all well, donated blood and made other overtures, such as visiting in the hospital, prayer, and expressions of concern, to help the family and Gary get through the months of tenuous survival (some of them sent Gary Christmas cards while he was in critical condition, some of which were among the decorations on our tree until I was an adult). This gratefulness was the most catalytic item in directing my thinking from the September 11 catastrophe to our family's experience. None of us who are sound enough of mind to have experienced it will see New York and New Yorkers the way we often used to, as uncaring people above the fray of everyday life. Even our neighbors—mine in San Jose, Calif., for example—are appreciated for qualities we never knew them to possess before and hadn't suspected.

It's axiomatic that we should always expect the best and think the highest of our neighbors. "Should," however, and "would" often don't come together in day-to-day living. Just learning how many people want to be helpful given the chance is eye-opening (even more eye-opening is how many others are more eager to be helpful than I am!). But that's part of the good lessons learned in this catastropic national crisis. And it has its parallel in my parents' generation with their personal crisis.

If we want to see our lives as having meaning beyond the flash of even the longest lifespans, we have to look here. We have to say that Gary's 19 years were more of a blessing to more people than most of the lives of others who've lived much longer. Though he suffered much, his sufferings changed things for other people...a number of people for the better. Is this beginning to get at why, when catastrophe strikes, the people of the Bible always repent first, or at least the prophets and the Lord call for that as the first thing to be done?

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

What every true Southerner knows... (series)

Real gravy don't come from the store.

Where "by and by" is.

How to handle their "pot likker."

The difference between "pert near" and "a right far piece."

The difference between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and trailer trash.

Sent by Sallie Covolo

Keep your words tender and sweet

A little prayer says, "O Lord, let my words be tender and sweet, for tomorrow I may have to eat them." I would add to this prayer these words, "Tomorrow I will not only have to eat them, but I will also have to answer to God for them." The Lord Jesus told us that we must answer for every idle word we have spoken. "I tell you, on the day of judgment, men will render account for every careless word they utter, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned," (Matt. 12:36-37).

—Anthony M. Coniaris


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