I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “knock on wood” before. For example, one might say: “The rain looks like it’s holding off, knock on wood“, or “Knock on wood, I’m much better now.” Another example would be “I have never had to use my gun before, knock on wood” (not that I have one!). If I were to give a personal example, I would say, “I have not gotten the flu yet this year, knock on wood“.
The expression is usually used in the hope that a good thing will continue to occur after it has been acknowledged. Yet, life as we know it has it’s ups and downs and the roller coaster ride is inevitable. But the question that lingers is, “Why do some people have more ups than downs?” This could be illustrated with Major League Baseball. One could ask, “Why is it the Yankees win a World Series so easily but the Cubs can’t buy a title?”
I was thinking about this more when I saw a recent interview with Sarah Palin about her new book, “Going Rogue”. In her memoir she was telling the story about the time she told her husband Todd about their unborn baby’s condition. Here is the excerpt:
Todd finally returned a few days later. He plopped down on the bed, still in his winter coat. I handed him the ultrasound pictures, and that’s when the dam broke. I could let my guard down.
“It’s a boy,” I said between the tears. “It’s definitely a boy.”
He looked up at me, and his eyes filled with tears. “See, Sarah? God knows what He’s doing! This is great.”
I stood beside the bed. I didn’t know how to say it any other way but straight. “The baby has Down’s syndrome.”
Todd didn’t speak. I remember him lying back on the bed, holding the ultrasound pictures and flipping through them. He’d look at one, put it in the back of the stack, look at the next. Over and over, silently, as though looking for answers.
Finally I sat down next to him. In his subdued way, he did not offer a reaction. So I had to ask. “Well … what do you think?”
“How can they tell?” he asked quietly. “Are they sure?”
“Yes. There’s an extra chromosome.”
He set the pictures aside and turned his face towards mine. “I’m happy, and I’m sad,” he said.
I thought it was pretty perfect the way he said that, because that’s the way it was. That’s the way I felt, too.
Todd said, “It’s going to be okay.”
I asked if he had the same question I had: “Why us?”
He looked genuinely surprised by my question and responded calmly: “Why not us?”
Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I received the news that we are expecting a completely healthy baby girl due next April. And while emotions flood and joy exudes, part of me always wants to “knock on wood”. Why us? Why should we have healthy children? What have we done to deserve this? Why do we have jobs and a healthy family while other people are not so fortunate?
That age-old question will go on without being answered. But one thing I know, and that is we’ve done nothing to deserve the blessings we have. In fact, there are times when I feel like I deserve to be dead! So what do we do with this proverbial need to “knock on wood” so that our “good fortune” will continue? Nothing. In the same way we’ve done nothing to receive our blessings, we can do nothing to maintain them. They are a gift…a perfect gift…from God himself. Ever get a gift from someone like a old forgotten friend or a colleague you barely know? How does it make you feel? You are indebted to the giver because they thought of you when they had no reason to do so.
And so this (American) Thanksgiving, I give thanks to the Giver of Life. To the one who gives and takes away. For all the blessings he’s given me and my family. For the good times and for the strength and hope to endure the bad times.