Tomorrow is Never Guaranteed

Deal W. Hudson
May 13, 2015

I have often been a passenger on the Amtrak train between DC and New York that derailed last night with such tragic results. I’ve always considered traveling by train extremely safe. This accident does not change my mind, though it’s a stark reminder that serious accidents can happen any time and at any place ⎯ even when the possibility of harm is the farthest thing from your mind.

Prayers are going up from across the country for those who died, were injured and traumatized. Those prayers are also a reminder that every day is a gift. There are no guarantees that we will see the sunrise tomorrow.

But this is not a reason to become darkly cynical, expecting the worst to happen. Rather, it’s a reminder that gratitude is imperative because it’s an intrinsic fact of our existence as creatures of God.

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Gratitude is easily forgotten in the midst of life’s annoyances and serious suffering. But when mortality comes near, such as contained in the images of the twisted train cars, the fragility of human existence is brought to mind.

I’m a cancer survivor. For the past four years, I’ve lived with much more gratitude than I did for the first 60 years of my life. Anyone who knows me knows that my bout with cancer changed my life, but they also know I’m just as liable to stubborn self-centeredness as before. The difference now is that my life was unexpectedly shattered by the real possibility of imminent death.

That dark visitation was a gift which, as I look back, has made me a better man. I hope I am saying this without self-deception, but I know that my continued survival has created a kind permanent change of vision. The so-called everydayness of life now appears to be extraordinary, such as the sight of my teenage son giggling uncontrollably with his best friend. What once might have annoyed me, now brings a sudden grin to my face.

Yes, I began with the horrible experience of 238 passengers on a train last night which led me to thoughts of what gratitude bestows in our lives. The connection of one thought to the other is natural, one that should not be resisted out of respect to those who have suffered and died. I’m certain that last night’s survivors, in their gratitude, have followed the same train of thought.

I’m also certain that many who are following this story will, perhaps for a moment, give thanks that they remain among the living. That gratitude will subtly color the experiences of the day, making the common shine with an unusual and delightful allure.

This can be our experience from each day, and though it never will be easy ⎯ we are far too flawed ⎯ our gratitude can increase, through prayer and reflection, without the impact of the bad fortune of others.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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