Not one human being, not even a new born, is without bearing some pain and complaining about. Till death us do part is the lifetime noose of pain around our necks.

“Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I’ve got a beautiful feeling everything’s going my way”. When Rogers and Hammerstein wrote these words we might wonder what planet they were from.

We hear almost daily, “How’s your day; how’s it going?” If we answered that question singing Rogers and Hammerstein’s composition, our extraterrestrial address would be their next question.

I am always impressed with my auto mechanic – always smiling and friendly amidst grease, sweat, ringing phones and customers pulling up to explain their auto woes. I also recall my mother in the 30s and 40s back on the farm. Every Monday she did the laundry (as did every housewife-mother in those days).

Her washing machine was in the basement. The clothes line (before clothes dryers) was at the far end of the backyard (some 200 feet from the house). On sunny Mondays amidst all her lugging those baskets of clothes up the basement steps and across the back yard, she was heard singing “Oh what a beautiful morning….everything is going my way”; what a demonstration of enjoying life that is far from perfect. Celebrating our days is the goal of our growing up.

Adversity and pain in life have divine orchestration for our maturation. It takes suffering and loss to understand and assist those in suffering and loss. It takes living to understand life; all so well experienced by my ineptness as a young clergyman – requiring years to experience and understand the agonies of life.

It seems that too many of us in our youthful aspirations, fanaticize a life of painless progress.

We are prone to plan a utopian path to delightful success circumventing life’s prescribed pains.

Ever seeking a painless life readily brings disappointment and desperation. Bound and determined to avoid our frailties, failures and frustrations, makes our daily mole-hills into mountains.

Filling the pot holes in our paths we soon learn we can’t fill them all. To make water flow uphill is quite difficult as it is to insist on a pain-free earthly life. Joy requires accepting the short-comings of life and people. Otherwise we are left to rejecting and quarreling. Secure footsteps are offered to us leading to a fabulous future. “Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me.” [Matthew 16:24]

The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and retired professor of psychology. Contact him at

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