EVANS MILLS — My wife and I recently returned home after a two-week trip to California. The primary purpose of the trip was to attend the wedding of a great-niece.
This event also afforded the opportunity to spend some time with nieces and nephews plus their children, whom I had not seen for several years. It was a great time spent amidst a wonderful occasion for celebration.
I have learned to appreciate family ties through the years as time seems to go by all too quickly. I was impressed with the overall positive attitudes of my nieces and nephews. They have all exhibited a positive attitude in living life despite the various challenges, heartaches, hurts and disappointments they have all faced in life.
Most of all, they reflect a deeply felt love and hospitality toward their children and other family members. We shared great memories, spending time by laughing, crying and affirming our love for one another. That for me and my wife was the grace of God at work!
Consequently, this trip allowed me to reflect on attitude. What a difference one’s attitude can make!
For example, the return leg of the trip home for me and my wife involved taking Amtrak. We had never traveled by train across the United States and thought it would be fun to experience. We traveled by sleeper car from San Diego to Chicago.
There was a time where traveling in this manner had a certain luxurious touch to it. No longer is that the case!
My wife and I shared a compartment with a combined shower and bathroom stall, which seemed like the size of a postage stamp. The sleeping accommodations included a bottom pull-out couch and a top level bunk. Needless to say, my wife and I learned to hone our contortionist skills.
However, what made the crucial difference in surviving this leg of the trip was meeting some wonderful people we had the occasion to dine with and the positive attitudes they exhibited. They enriched our lives through conversation and attitude.
Unfortunately, the remainder of the trip from Chicago to Syracuse was simply an endurance contest as we had no sleeper car. But all our luggage arrived home safely!
What is your attitude these days? There is much in the national and world news that could leave you discouraged and disheartened if you let it.
Now you may say that others do not know the personal heartache and trauma you are going through right now. True, but I encourage you to stay positive in how you live life because it will and can make a difference in the lives of others.
As a prison chaplain, my goal is to stay positive every day among the inmate population at the prison where I work. These men, for the most part, are living in a very negative environment.
My attitude, therefore, is intended to be a breath of fresh air for them. That combined with words of encouragement have made an impact on many of the men.
Be a breath of fresh air to someone — that’s the grace of God at work! By the way, anyone up for a train ride?
The Rev. Steve Nagler of Evans Mills is a chaplain at Cape Vincent Correctional Facility. An ordained minister with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, he previously served as a chaplain in U.S. Army from 1985 to 2005.