A brain injury is a funny thing. If things are calm, I’m good. But when I am stressed, or tired, I am prone to what are called ‘spells.’ This is a spacey disconnect with reality, preceded by an unusual aura. Sometimes while I’m sleeping, I’ll even have seizures, and I absolutely HATE hearing about these, because most of the time I’m unaware of them. They are why I do not drive.
The Bible says to give thanks in everything (not for everything), which to me means to live with gratitude. So, I try to slow down and not stress, to take delight in the small joys of life. I covet the peace that comes from a grateful heart, and I’m very passionate about giving thanks, about trying to live with a spirit of gratitude.
I am a storyteller and I like what Donald Maass has to say about conveying our passionate opinions: “They are always stronger in the mouths of characters than in the prose of the author.”
One of the characters in my latest novel, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” is Mr. Tyronious Byrd, an aging black gentleman who’s caretaker of a tree farm in 1944 Georgia. Tyronious Byrd has gone through a valley of utter darkness, a time when his inner fortitude and all of his convictions were tested. It became one of those inward turning points for him, and now Mr. Byrd has things to say to a young man named William who struggles with polio and cannot serve alongside his peers in WWII:
“Now don’t go pityin’ yo’self, son. Seem ever’ day I hear about some mama or daddy getting’ a telegram say their baby ain’t coming home. Don’t be gettin’ jealous of nobody over there fightin’. Besides yo’ limp and a hand what gives you trouble, you an able-bodied man. Got this nice family business just waitin’ for you to take it over someday.”
Tyronious Byrd is an impassioned advocate of looking at the silver lining of every cloud. His faith in God’s plan is the force that drives him. He cleaves to the belief that giving thanks in spite of circumstances is a sure way to have peace. William complains to him that this is not an easy thing to do:
“Naw. It ain’t easy, that for sho’. But then ain’t nothin’ worth havin’ ever easy.” Mr. Byrd cleared his throat. “You recall me tellin’ you God ain’t never goin’ let you down? That whatever happen, He goin’ use it in His perfect plan?”
Even though William is doubtful, Tyronious Byrd cleaves to his convictions. He does not mince words. He speaks the truth as he sees it:
“Sometime when life give a person a hard blow, the Lord don’t reach down and deliver ‘em out of all they troubles. Sometime He give ‘em the strength to endure and overcome. Now I ain’t gonna lie t’ you, son. Sometime the nights still be lonely, and some days seem t’ go on forever, ‘specially in December, but even then I been able t’ find a peace and joy I ain’t never experience before my valley – on account I feel Jesus, the Presence, walkin’ beside me.”