History is a poor teacher because it can only look back at acts we have already survived. The effect is reassuring. However bad things were as we look back at them, we read as survivors. Naturally, we assume we will continue to survive.
"This, too," we hear the old timers say, "shall pass."
Sometimes the passing is painful.
Boj, Tret and Golda grew up together. They saw the painful rites of passage into maturity together. Tret made it harder for the others but Boj and Golda managed to love him through it all. Boj loved him, that is, and Golda tolerated him as much as one could tolerate Tret.
Tret lacked that little bit of self-doubt, the kernel of self-questioning that breeds humility in a human psyche. Tret never doubted, so he seldom grew. Most of his growth he leached off of Boj, who questioned himself about everything he thought and did and wanted.
Tret elevated his least accomplishment to the heavens. One day, when he was a small boy, Tret had climbed behind the washing machine in his family utility room. There he stayed until he met God. He never tired of telling the story, over and over, of how God came to speak to him behind the washing machine, in the narrow space where only a small boy could go.
"I prayed and I prayed and I prayed," Tret would tell bored hearers at length. "No one else was with me. I just prayed and prayed and prayed. After a long time, God came to me behind the washing machine. I saw God. God talked to me."
"Only God could get in a word," Golda mused, in her tenth hearing of the story.
"God let me know how special I was to Him," Tret ignored her interruption. "God told me He would always be with me, wherever I went and whatever I did. God would bless me because I am so special."
"Only God could see," Golda added, rolling brown eyes to the sky.
"Yes, only God could see," Tret answered, missing her tone completely. "God has walked right beside me since that day, since I prayed God down to the utility room, behind the washing machine. God blessed me in every way since that moment."
"Does God ever bless you with quiet?" Golda asked.
"God is my constant companion," Tret finished. "What other boy can say that?"
"What other boy would say that?" Golda finished.
Boj searched for God without much hope. He had long talks with great-grandfather about God. Great-grandfather seemed to know a lot about God but Boj could no more find God than great-grandfather could find his lost, sinister, left shoe. Boj knew he should find God. Everyone needed God. It just seemed God was not so clear to him.
"What does God want from me?" Boj asked great-grandfather often.
"Nothing from you does God want," great-grandfather answered.
"Nothing, not one thing. What do you have God would need?"
"Not one thing."
"So, what do I do with God?" Boj needed to know.
"Find some way to love God, whom you cannot see," great-grandfather told him.
"How do I do that?
"Love people you see, no matter how fiendish the fiend. See if in that you find God. It will keep you busy enough until you see God," the old man said.
"Who do I love?"
"The bad ones, love them."
"How do I know if I love them?"
"When bad they no longer seem to you, then you love them."
He even loved Tret, who never actually stopped seeming bad to him.