Discovery in a Thunderstorm

Dr. Nelson Glueck - Cincinnati, Ohio
Broadcast during the 1950s

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Many years ago I was on a bicycle trip through some exceedingly picturesque countryside. Suddenly, dark clouds piled up overhead and rain began to fall, but strange to relate, several hundred yards ahead of me the sun shone brilliantly. Pedaling, however, as rapidly as I could, I found it impossible to get into the clear. The clouds with their rain kept advancing faster than I could race forward. I continued this unequal contest for an exhausting half hour, before realizing that I could not win my way to the bright area ahead of me.

Then it dawned upon me that I was wasting my strength in unimportant hurry, while paying no attention whatsoever to the landscape for the sake of which I was making the trip. The storm could not last forever and the discomfort was not unendurable. Indeed, there was much to look at which might otherwise have escaped me. As I gazed about with sharpened appreciation, I saw colors and lines and contours that would have appeared differently under brilliant light. The rain mists which now crowned the wooded hills and the fresh clearness of the different greens were entrancing. My annoyance at the rain was gone and my eagerness to escape it vanished. It had provided me with a new view and helped me understand that the sources of beauty and satisfaction may be found close at hand within the range of one’s own sensibilities.

It made me think, then and later, about other matters to which this incident was related. It helped me realize that there is no sense in my attempting ever to flee from circumstances and conditions which cannot be avoided but which I might bravely meet and frequently mend and often turn to good account. I know that half the battle is won if I can face trouble with courage, disappointment with spirit, and triumph with humility. It has become ever clearer to me that danger is far from disaster, that defeat may be the forerunner of final victory, and that, in the last analysis, all achievement is perilously fragile unless based on enduring principles of moral conduct.

I have learned that trying to find a carefree world somewhere far off involves me in an endless chase in the course of which the opportunity for happiness and the happiness of attainment are all too often lost in the chase itself. It has become apparent to me that I cannot wipe out the pains of existence by denying them, blaming them largely or completely on others, or running away from them.

The elements of weakness which mark every person cannot absolve me from the burdens and blessings of responsibility for myself and to others. I can magnify but never lessen my problems by ignoring, evading, or exorcising them. I believe that my perplexities and difficulties can be considerably resolved, if not completely overcome, by my own attitudes and actions. I am convinced that there can be no guarantee of my happiness except that I help evoke and enhance it by the work of my hands and the dictates of my heart and the direction of my striving. I believe that deep faith in God is necessary to keep me and hold mankind uncowed and confident under the vagaries and ordeals of mortal experience, and particularly so in this period of revolutionary storm and travail. If my values receive their sanction and strength from relationship to divine law and acceptance of its ethical imperatives, then nothing can really harm me. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Dr. Nelson Glueck was an American rabbi and archaelogist, and he was President of Hebrew Union College from 1948 to 1971. For many years connected with the American School of Oriental Research in both Jerusalem and Bagdad, Dr. Glueck has archaeologically explored more than 1ooo ancient sites in the Transjordan. The excavator of King Solomon`s port city of Ezion-Geber on the Red Sea, he also discovered King Solomon`s copper mines in the Wadi Arabah, and has identified many hitherto lost Biblical cities in the Jordan Valley. The author of many scientific articles and books, including The Other Side of the Jordan and four volumes on Explorations in Eastern Palestine, Dr. Glueck has also written The River Jordan, a book that has been characterized as showing "an almost unique combination of learning, personality, and spiritual feeling." He died in 1971.