10-17-2019 Letters and Commentary

The long view

I walked alone past the small storefronts and restaurants. Inviting aromas from a Greek restaurant wafted out their open door. The bright sun was out again after a rainy Philadelphia morning. A request had gone out to help with Alex, the son of a coworker.

Headed to Children’s Hospital to give blood, I prayed for his healing as I walked. Alex was dying of Wilms Tumor and had needed many blood transfusions. He was four. Alex ultimately did not survive his battle with cancer.

I have a lasting memory of that lunchtime walk, including the memory of a shimmering, clear, bright reflection in a puddle left by the morning rain. The puddle reflected the blues and whites of the sky above. As I moved along, a thought came to my mind, “Even the puddles reflect the sky.”

Joe is 84. I always ask, “How are you doing, Joe?” His unfailing response, “I’m on the top side of the grass!” Once he added, “The number of my days was determined in eternity past, and I will live no more and no less.”

So why did Alex have so few days and Joe so many? Jesus, referring to children once said, “Of such is the kingdom of Heaven.” There are lots of kids in Heaven.

We don’t understand the reasons for our number of days – why one has so many, and why another has so few. But do we have to understand in order to have faith? Faith that in spite of the intense pain of loss, still looks up, or at least while looking down, sees a reflection of the sky in the puddles?

Jesus Christ provided a way whereby we can look forward to a time when there will be no more pain, or tears of mourning, and no more death. That’s the long view – for Alex, for Joe, and for us.

TO VAPE OR NOT TO VAPE? Why is it still a question whether “vaping” is harmful to users? Vaping is using a device that vaporizes a chemical concoction and the user inhales the vapor. I think it was developed as a tobacco substitute product.

As a matter of fact, there’s a commercial running on television that suggests the process is a safe and beneficial product for those wanting to quit smoking but can’t.

I would suspect the hapless smokers who can’t quit is outnumbered by vaping users who are hooked on a product that already has proved harmful to its users.

Why can’t the Federal government take a page from its hugely successful anti-smoking campaign of regulations and taxes, to save the lungs of millions of Americans.

I’m not sure what it was that woke me up Sunday morning but the pale blue light kept me awake for a while. Had it been a couple months later I would’ve attributed the glow to winter snow on the ground. Compared to some of the lights in the past week with heavy rain and howling winds it was kind of spooky.

Saturday and Sunday were quintessential fall days replete with bright sun and cool temperatures. It brought me back to memories of taking the kids to a cider mill in Rochester Michigan for cider and donuts. Sometimes there would be a couple carloads of family and friends and kids heading back home all with sugar and cider highs.

When we came to Watervliet we continue