Rising to the challenge, with wit and grace

The Examiner

One of the pitfalls of this era of dislocation and rethinking and reordering everything from work to church to the simple act of going out for a nice meal is getting so focused on the day’s challenges that some of life’s beauties slip past unnoticed. 

We’ve all told each other that self-care – long walks, good books, a peek at whatever Netflix is up to – is important. Humans are not always good at following the very advice they like to hand out. 

Jeff Fox

Or maybe that’s just me. 

I didn’t know I needed – needed – to read Sharon’s Randall novel until I did so. I needed beauty and grace. Good writing helps too. 

I have to say a bit about my friend Sharon. She has written a syndicated column that’s appeared on this page – as it does today – for many years. We’ve shaken hands and chatted a time or two. We email back and forth. I’d say we are kindred spirits, half a continent apart but good friends.  

Here comes the full-disclosure part: She wrote a novel and asked me to write a back-cover blurb. Sure. How hard can that be?  

Actually, it’s plenty hard if you don’t want to sound like every other blurb on the back of every other book – and if you want to raise your writing to the level of the subject at hand. But I persisted.  

Then I got an autographed book in the mail – “The World and Then Some.” 

The novel is rich and deep. The characters do their work, go to church and answer the call of duty, but mostly they invest their lives in those they love. They commit with abandon. The world could use more of that. 

And life happens to them. There is suffering, loss and, for some, deep regret and a yearning to put things right. There are good times and bad. There is a miracle or two. Life is not particularly easy for any of them – work is hard, constant and sometimes dangerous – but they keep going. 

Through it all, they continue to love and show each other grace. An example for all of us. 

The author David McCullough says humans need stories as much as we need food, clothing and shelter. Stories tell us who we are and who we came from, and they remind us that it’s possible to can choose to be better. 

Life is short. Take time for the good stuff – a walk at sunset, a ballgame on the radio, or a good story well told by a novelist possessed of clarity, wit and empathy. 

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net or on Twitter at @FoxEJC.