By: Mae Lewis

“Tell me, how blessed are we to have tragedy so small it can fit on the tips of our tongues?”

Yesterday, I lost a computer file that I had already spent several hours on, and I had to start over. I wanted to cry. Then I saw a news report of real events unfolding in Israel…and I did cry. I’m ashamed that a bad day for me is having a headache, or having a work project go awry. I’m ashamed that my real world experiences have been so sheltered and so privileged that I have never known what it means to truly be hungry or thirsty. I’ve never been without a bed, or a roof over my head, or lived out in the cold. I’ve never had to sleep in my car out of necessity. I’ve never had to steal food to keep my children fed. I’ve never had to sell my body to survive. I have never seen bodies burning or people screaming in pain. I have never experienced something so horrific that my entire world is shattered in an instant.

I am reminded again of the privileges I have residing in Middle America, where everything comes as easily as a drive to the grocery store. As long as I have a good internet connection, I have the entire world at my fingertips.

This brought to my mind a poem by Rudy Francisco entitled “Complainers”- and I wish I could write with this kind of passion and elegance. I want to use my column space this month to share this masterpiece with you.  (To REALLY be moved, watch Rudy perform this live on YouTube.)

COMPLAINERS – a poem by Rudy Francisco

“On May 26, 2003,

Aaron Ralston was hiking,

a boulder fell on his right hand,

he waited four days,

he then amputated

his own arm with a pocketknife.

On New Year’s Eve,

a woman was bungee jumping,

the cord broke,

she fell into a river

and had to swim back to land

in crocodile-infested waters

with a broken collarbone.

Claire Champlin was smashed in the face

by a five-pound watermelon

being propelled by a slingshot.

Mathew Brobst was hit by a javelin.

David Striegl was actually

punched in the mouth by a kangaroo.

The most amazing part of these stories

is when asked about the experience

they all smiled, shrugged and said

“I guess things could’ve been worse.”

So go ahead,

tell me you’re having a bad day.

Tell me about the traffic. Tell me about your boss.

Tell me about the job you’ve been trying to quit

for the past four years. Tell me the morning is just

a townhouse burning to the ground and

the snooze button is a fire extinguisher.

Tell me the alarm clock

stole the keys to your smile,

drove it into 7 a.m.

and the crash totaled your happiness.

Tell me! Tell me!

Tell me how blessed are we to have tragedy

so small it can fit on the tips of our tongues.

When Evan lost his legs he was speechless.

When my cousin was assaulted

she didn’t speak for 48 hours.

When my uncle was murdered,

we had to send out a search party

to find my father’s voice.

Most people have no idea

that tragedy and silence

often have the exact same address.

When your day is a museum of disappointments,

hanging from events that were outside of your control,

when you feel like your guardian angel put in his two-weeks’

notice two months ago and just decided not to tell you,

when it seems like God is just a babysitter that’s always on the phone,

when you get punched in the esophagus by a fistful of life.

Remember, every year

two million people die of dehydration.

So it doesn’t matter if

the glass is half full or half empty.

There’s water in the cup.

Drink it and stop complaining.

Muscle is created by lifting things

that are designed to weigh us down.

When your shoulders are heavy

stand up straight and call it exercise.

Life is a gym membership

with a really complicated cancellation policy.


you will survive,

things could be worse,

and we are never given

anything we can’t handle.

When the whole world crumbles,

you have to build a new one

out of all the pieces that are still here.

Remember, you are still here.

The human heart beats

approximately 4,000 times per hour

and each pulse, each throb,

each palpitation is a trophy,

engraved with the words

“You are still alive.”

You are still alive.

So act like it.”

― Rudy Francisco, Helium

By: Mae Lewis