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Memphis Daily News
Finding The Best in The Worst of Times
January 11, 2018
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” is the opening line of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” The story, set during the French Revolution, centers on the possibility of resurrection and transformation both on personal and societal levels. Rooted in that transformation is the sacrifice and suffering that accompanies it.

Dickens’ description of that time is the same description that we can give to any moment in our own personal lives, or in the life of our society. The times in which we live can bring out the best or the worst, personally or in society. The choice is always ours to make. Often it is within the worst of times that we can find the best of ourselves and others. It is a truth that is ever ancient, ever new.

There was a recent experience in my life that was a revelation of just how you can experience peace in the midst of chaos and confusion, how people give rise to hope in the worst of times.

I arrived at the airport in time to learn that several flights, including mine, were canceled due to a band of severe weather across the country that had closed the airport in a connecting city.

The airline personnel were overwhelmed with the demands of the multitude of people around the area of the ticket counter. I stood at the main entrance taking in the chaotic situation, seeing no way out. It seemed like the worst of times.

A young man with a harried look on his face, wearing a badge that identified him as an airline employee, walked passed me.
“Excuse me please,” I said to him. “Is there any way you can help me get to Memphis tonight?”

He looked at me in disbelief. He seemed unable to comprehend any sanity in my request. He was having his own bad day.
After a long minute he said, “Give me your ticket.” He took the ticket and disappeared.

After 10 minutes, I started to wonder why I gave a stranger my ticket. Five more minutes passed, and I realized I didn’t have a flight or a ticket.

Shortly later, the man returned, handed me a new ticket for a different airline and said, “You have 30 minutes to get to the next terminal. It’s a 15-minute walk, so hurry. I called ahead to tell them you’re coming. They’re holding the last seat for you. Go!”

I went, convinced that God had provided him, and a way where there was no way. It seemed like the best of times. It was an experience and a lesson learned, too good not to share.

Regardless of what circumstances surround you, you can still be that source of hope for someone else. We live in chaotic times where hope is a fragile commodity. Make the choice to bring out the best of times in the wort of times, wherever you are, whatever you do, one person at a time.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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