We've dealt with tragedies and worries in our family. Just in recent years, four of us with cancer, with one of those dying, have been among our challenges. But we've also experienced moments of great joy. We felt fortunate when our daughter survived cancer, and were overjoyed when we found that her treatment had not kept her from becoming pregnant.
Last December, we were blessed with her giving birth to her own beautiful daughter. My wife went for a visit when the baby was three months old. I was lacking vacation time, so I made plans to join her with a Thursday red-eye flight.
That Thursday, I was at our local kosher restaurant, sharing pictures and joy about our grandchild, when my cell phone went off. It was the airline, informing me that all their flights had been canceled, due to a snowstorm.
I was sad, disappointed, upset. I scrambled to find another flight on another airline, but all flights were canceled.
I struggled to fulfill the commandment to enjoy Shabbat, and spent the time with friends, and was able to keep my attitude positive most of the time. But throughout that weekend, I struggled with disappointment.
Sunday was a beautiful day, and I decided a good bike ride with a friend was a way to keep myself from moping around the house. We had a wonderful ride, my first long ride of the season, and I came home exhausted, with just enough time to put on cleaner clothes and head for shul for evening services.
I barely had the energy to walk out the door, but was too stubborn an athlete to drive to shul, so I walked the half mile there. As I approached the shul's street, I glanced up to see a young boy, about two years old, smiling and running along a path in the park there. He was headed straight for the busy street, and there was no one with him. And he wasn't slowing down at all.
Somehow, I managed to take off running across the street, waving him back and yelling at him to stop. Around then, his father, slowed by carrying a younger child, came around a corner on the path and saw with horror the same potential disaster I was seeing.
I don't know if it was his father's calling out, or mine, or just the little boy's own decision, but the child stopped, right at the curb. The grateful father thanked me.
Was I supposed to be stuck in town that weekend just for this purpose? I'll never know, but it certainly makes it easier for me to accept my having missed my trip. In the same way, having the faith that whatever happens is part of God's plan, even if I can never have an inkling of what that plan is, can make the true tragedies in life more bearable.