By Charlie Sacchetti
I’ll never forget what happened to me on my 50th birthday. I say this not because of a big surprise party or other event marking what many feel to be a milestone. Instead, something happened to me that may be the most spiritual experience I’ve ever had, and it came from a rather unlikely source. In 1997, I was well into my sales career, and there was a lot going on in my life. I had two children, one in college and one in high school, and a stay-at-home wife whose job was to take care of all three of us and who did her job very well. I was working as a straight-commission salesman, which meant that each time I left my home to drive to my territory, I had no idea how much money, if any, I would earn that day. Being a commissioned salesman can be either motivating or devastating. You have to sell to earn a paycheck. If you don’t sell, your family is in jeopardy. The everyday pressure of that reality was something I had to live with and handle.
At this particular time of my life, I was feeling a bit uneasy. It was summer, and I was having back problems. Carrying that heavy sample case didn’t make my back pain feel any better. I’d have to admit that a bunch of stuff was starting to pile up, and I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. As a spiritual person, I have always trusted in God to take care of all of us but I, like most human beings, have my weaker moments.
As I left our home in New Jersey to drive to my destination for the day, which was the Pottstown, Pennsylvania, area, I would have plenty of time to think. The 50-mile commute was usually unpleasant. It involved driving on I-95, the Schuylkill Expressway, and Route 422 West. I-95 and the expressway were always full of surprises, usually bad ones, and 422 was very heavily traveled. The impending driving drudgery aside, I did have a spark of happy anticipation. Since this day, June 26, 1997, was my 50th birthday, I was looking forward to my return home and my quiet celebration with my family. As my commute began, I quickly encountered a traffic jam on I-95, just a short distance from my home. The knowledge that this would make a long trip even longer caused me to forget about any birthday joy, as my day would begin with a good measure of aggravation.
The extended commute would last about two hours, and as I slowly (and I mean slowly) negotiated the expressway and then picked up 422 near King of Prussia, my case of the “blahs” was a steady companion. Even the music playing on my radio didn’t do much to put me in a good frame of mind. As I exited 422 at Hanover Street in Pottstown, something happened that served not only to lighten my heart but to bring me inner peace in a most profound way.
I heard Rod Stewart’s soulful rendition of a song written by Van Morrison: “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?”
It was playing very loudly, although I hadn’t turned up the volume. I was never a huge Rod Stewart fan but, somehow, as I drove toward High Street, my mind intently focused on the lyrics:
Have I told you lately that I love you?
Have I told you there’s no one above you?
Fill my heart with gladness,
Take away all my sadness,
Ease my troubles, that’s what you do.
Oh, the morning sun with all its glory
Greets the day with hope and comfort too.
And you fill my life with laughter.
You can make it better.
Ease my troubles, that’s what you do.
There’s a love that’s divine,
And it’s yours and mine,
Like the sun.
At the end of the day,
We should give thanks and pray to the One, to the One.
This was a beautiful love song. But for me, at that moment, it wasn’t about love between a man and a woman. It was about how God loves us. As I digested those lyrics with that in mind, the fog that enveloped me was lifted, and I immediately felt like my old self. It was a wonderful renewal of what I have always believed: that Our Lord will continue to take care of us, even in our weakest moments.
I have heard that song countless times over the years. Each time I do, it lifts me up, and it’s a blessing.
Charlie Sacchetti is the author of two books, “It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change,” and “Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org