I have been reading what I believe may be the best book that describes some of the early history of our country. When I first saw this book and started reading it, I thought, “Bet this sucker could get boring pretty quickly.” Wrong. Quickly, wrong. The book is David McCullough’s John Adams.
What a read, and it only makes me marvel at the greatness of so many of our early founders, both men and women. I have come to have great respect for our second president, John Adams, and interestingly, also his wife, Abigail. What a lady she was. Time and time again, she exhibited great wisdom and insight.
So often, she and her husband were separated, as much of Adams’ work was done in foreign fields, especially France. There were times they would be apart for a year or more. She endured tremendous hardships at home in Boston. Truly, this couple had a “love affair” with one another. She had always said that she would never, never venture a trip on a ship across the ocean. “Never would I tempt such an undertaking,” she was quoted as saying. Well, she changed her mind. John had wanted her to be with him and she him. They no longer could stand the separation from one another, so she agreed to make this frightful journey from Boston to France; a trip that would take as long as three months at sea with no guarantee of one’s safety. She was doing something she had once said, “I will never do.” Later, she said
“But let no person say what they would or would not do, since we are not
judges for ourselves until circumstance calls us to act.”
Those are Mrs. John Adams’ words. I love that quote. I think of how many times I, probably all of us, have made bold statements, “what we would never do.” Then, later, find ourselves in a similar situation and faced with the reality of the matter. We have to ask ourselves, “What are we going to do?”
“You will never catch me doing that.” Oh really? When one is not in that situation, it is pretty easy to say “what we would do.” Or, how many times have we made a judgment of another’s actions and say, “Boy, you would never catch me, or I’ll tell you, here’s what I would do.” Oh, yeah. Abigail Adams was so right. Sometimes the best thing for each of us to do is stay out of the judgment business, especially of others.
In her last letter to her husband before sailing for France, she wrote,
“My thoughts are fixed; my latest wish depends on thee,
guide, guardian, husband, lover and friend.”
“You will never catch me doing that.” Oh, really?
March 9, 2012