A Profound Secret

TaleOfTwoCities

Who but a former English teacher would take such interest in the following quote from the beginning of Chapter Three of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities?

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!”

I was enjoying a solitary walk at the mall recently when I started thinking about the other walkers I encountered. Despite the variety of ethnic backgrounds and nationalities, almost all of them were unfailingly pleasant. And why wouldn’t they be?

Even though most of us weren’t walking together, we shared a common activity. And we tended to greet one another as if we were old friends.

But then the Dickens passage quoted above came to mind. How much did I know about my fellow walkers? And how much did they know about me? Basically nothing. We were all limited to what we could see. Each of us was truly a “profound secret and mystery” to all of the others.

I hadn’t been working at Target very long–this was about nine years ago–when Anthony, one of my co-workers, pedaled his bicycle to the top of an interstate overpass, parked it, and jumped to his death on the highway below.  He was only nineteen or twenty.

His suicide was a shock to everyone who knew him. If anyone had any idea what led to that final desperate act, he or she didn’t share it with the rest of us.

Because the store personnel knew of my writing ability, they asked me to compose a brief obituary, which they framed along with Anthony’s picture and posted in a frequently traveled hallway. That was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to write.

I barely knew Anthony. But if I’d known him better, it might’ve been even harder.

So I quoted the Charles Dickens passage and simply said that whatever had motivated Anthony was a secret. A mystery. Something we could never have seen from the outside. Or been able to prevent.

How I envy God’s ability to see inside the human heart–and the whole of every person’s being–and to understand those things we can’t know about one another. How much better our relationships with others would be if we could see them that clearly. And how much more effectively we might be able to help them.

If you have any thoughts on this subject, please share them in a comment.

~*~

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

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An Unsolved Mystery

During the few years I taught junior high school English, I became friends with a fellow teacher I’ll refer to as JM just in case anyone knowing her should see this. She had a boyfriend back home–wherever “home” was–and we had no romantic interest in one another.

But we enjoyed talking, and I frequently visited her and her roommates. We shared a pleasant relationship.

At some point during the school year I learned that JM had resigned unexpectedly and returned home. No other explanation was given, and I soon quit visiting her former roommates.

One Friday night months later, my telephone rang. Although I’d been snoozing, I was completely awake when I answered and heard JM on the line. She told me she’d come back to the area to visit her roommates and wanted to say hi to me. She gave a reason for her sudden departure from the area, but I’ll refrain from mentioning it here except to say that it made sense. We probably talked for half an hour. Maybe longer.

I ran into one of her former roommates a short time later and asked how their visit with JM had gone. She looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “What visit?”

I told her about the call. Together we tried to figure it out. I was still positive that I hadn’t been dreaming. I KNOW when I’m dreaming and when I’m not. And it wasn’t a student playing a clever prank. JM had talked about things no student could possibly have known about.

To this day, I can’t be sure what happened, but I’ve made an assumption I can neither prove or disprove. JM felt like talking to me for whatever reason–we had been friends, after all–and called from “home,” claiming to be visiting her roommates to avoid making me suspicious about calling.

I still puzzle over this whole thing.

JM, if you happen to see this, please contact me via my website. And if any of my other readers have any thoughts about this unsolved mystery, please leave a comment. Or if you have an unsolved mystery of your own.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger