Growing up I learned about the great depression primarily through my parents’ explanation for some of my grandparents’ habits…like why they had hundreds of used rubber bands (shipping paper, sacks, etc.). My grandparents never really talked about it. In fact, it was hard to realize much about what they went through because they didn’t show it. They were always happy to see us and made time for baking, reading or cards or whatever. They didn’t live in the past with a black cloud of hard times over their head. They lived in the present, which made it fun and easy to be around them.
I wish I could talk to them about what’s happening today. With the economy worse than it’s ever been in my lifetime, there is much to be concerned about and I could benefit from their experience and wisdom. People are losing their homes, jobs, retirement and their pride. And while we took a hit on the house we sold, at least we sold our house and still have a job. Still, it is easy to worry. I wonder what my grandma would say to me right now. Actually, I don’t. I’m pretty sure I know what she’d say, or at least what her attitude would be. “This too shall pass.”
So I looked up the phrase on wikipedia and this is what was there.
“This too shall pass” (Hebrew: gam zeh yaavor) is a phrase occurring in a Jewish wisdom folktale involving King Solomon. The phrase is commonly engraved on silver rings. Many versions of the folktale have been recorded by the Israel Folklore Archive at the University of Haifa (here’s one):
“King Solomon once searched for a cure against depression. He assembled his wise men together.They meditated for a long time and gave him the following advice:Make yourself a ring and have thereon engraved the words “This too shall pass.” The King carried out the advice. He had the ring made and wore it constantly. Every time he felt sad and depressed, he looked at the ring whereon his mood would change and he would feel cheerful.”
Apparently Abraham Lincoln made the phrase and associated ring story popular in an address he once gave.
I know this phrase alone does not remove the suffering of many who are in survival mode right now. Yet it does remind me that times will get better again and that there are many things in life which can’t be counted in dividends or payments. So this week, as I usher in the Thanksgiving holiday, I will embrace my grandmother’s optimism and be filled with gratitude for those things I do have, like my job, my marriage and my two healthy, happy, smart and determined kids who will I hope, know far better economic times in their future. I’m grateful for the love of my family and friends. And for God’s grace, which never passes. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!