Saturday, April 18, 2009

In everything give Him thanks

I didn't see the series when it was on TV, but I did read the biography of John Adams, by David McCullough. In the chapter, Rejoice Evermore, Mr. Adams tells the story of when he was a young lawyer in Boston, he often heard a man singing behind the door of an obscure house. One day, curious to know who "this cheerful mortal" might be, he knocked at the door to find a poor shoemaker with a large family living in a single room. Did he find it hard getting by, Adams had asked. "Sometimes," the man said. Adams order a pair of shoes. "I had scarcely got out the door before he began to sing again like a nightingale," Adams remembered. "Which was the greatest philosopher? Epictetus, or this shoemaker?" he would ask when telling the story. Epictetus, the Greek Stoic philosopher, had said, among other the things, "It is difficulties that show what men are."