Regardless of whether the other shoe drops, troubles come and g

April 11, 2004

Some wise person must have pontificated in years gone by that "troubles always come in threes" - and we've been quoting him or her ever since.

When I was growing up, as soon as one bad thing happened, I waited in fear and trembling for the other two problems to occur. My dad used to use the expression "waiting for the other shoe to drop" because he said that every night when my mother came to bed, she took off one shoe and let it fall to the wood floor, and although he lay there waiting, he never heard the other shoe. Either she realized the noise might be disturbing and corrected her error with the second shoe or she went to sleep with one shoe on and one shoe off.

I remember going to bed one night when I was of elementary school age, and feeling that I had the troubles of the world heaped upon my head. As I recall, there were indeed three major concerns: my sisters were getting to go to my grandmother's house in Ohio and they thought I was too little to go with them; I was embroidering a sampler and had become stuck on French knots, a needlework stitch that simply baffled me; and lastly, I had broken my Mickey Mouse watch and was scared to tell my mother.


Now this was looking at the world from a child's perspective, which is quite normal. However, many years later, when I was in my 30s, I again was overwhelmed with problems. This time they involved the parents of my Sunday School preschoolers being annoyed because I had told the kids that they could wear their Halloween costumes to Sunday School.

The other big problem was that I had been making stained glass windows for my class using crayon shavings pressed between two pieces of waxed paper. Unfortunately, the crayons were somehow sucked up into my steam iron and my husband's white shirts came out in wondrous rainbows of color. So I was down on my knees asking God to make these things go away when I suddenly had a mental vision of God holding out his hand and saying, "Stop the world! I can't worry about wars or pestilence or famine; I have to take care of Katherine's colorful steam iron." While God did not exactly solve my problems, I did get a good laugh out of it.

Unfortunately, problems do not disappear as one grows older, although it gets easier to accept and learn from them as part and parcel of life. I had such a learning experience this spring from a tree in my back yard. It is a Bradford Pear, which has given me great joy when it bursts into fluffy, white bloom every spring, and again in the late fall, when its leaves alternate with red and green, as if it were preparing for Christmas.

Well, this spring a tree expert pruned the tree down to the very nubbins of its branches - he said it was for the tree's own good. I am always skeptical when someone tells me that something unpleasant or painful is "for my own good." However, believe it or not, this brave little tree bloomed this spring, even in its shorn condition. In other words, no matter that it had been drastically reduced in size and splendor, it still bloomed as best it could.

So, now I know! Whether troubles come one at a time or arrive in the troublesome threes, we can still live and bloom as best we can.

Katherine Orton lives in Danville.|3/16/04|***

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