Sunday, March 15, 2015

A little piece of light

This morning I read an interesting article titled “A little piece of light” by the late writer and essayist, Thomas Sugrue, in The Reader’s Digest New Pocket Companion. Sugrue, himself the victim of a crippling disease that left him bedridden or bound to a wheelchair for several years, writes about a brave woman he knew when he was a kid.

Married to an inept man and with children prone to accident and disease, she had “more troubles than anyone else in town.” But she never showed it. She told Sugrue that she managed her difficult life with a smile on her face and a spring in her step with the aid of a “secret helper” whom she met through her mother.

Actually, the secret helper is a scene in her kitchen where, as a small girl, she and her mother had a cup of tea together, where for a few moments they forgot all their troubles. It was enough to infuse her with courage and fortitude to see her through the day, one day at a time, every day of her life.


The woman told Sugrue, “That is my secret helper—that scene in the kitchen. Whenever I feel discouraged or very tired, I think of it, and I begin to laugh, and then to cry a little—it’s good to cry now and then—and I sit down and make myself a cup of tea. When it’s finished I’m read to pull my apron tight and get on with what needs to be done.”

I thought it was a beautiful story. We all have a secret helper, even if most of us don’t know who or what it is—a wonderful memory, or a little piece of light, that guides us through life.

I particularly liked the following lines from Sugrue’s article:

“Memory has always been man’s true friend. Yet in our age of psychology, memory is regarded as a hiding place for the hurts of childhood, a jungle in which the psychologist hunts for wolves of fear and snakes of anxiety.”

And, “Actually, most of any man’s memory is a record of his mediocre efforts to be a better and more admirable human being. There are painful incidents he does not want to face; but there are also, if he looks for them, happy memories.”

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