Dear Readers: Stuff happens. And all too often in my life, it seems stuff happens to yours truly. While you may or may not have a hankering to wade through the early paragraphs of this column, I urge you to slog through my musings this week, if you are to have any understanding at all of the second part of my story in next week’s edition of this newspaper. After all, friend and foe alike would not want to miss the true story of how this country lawyer and newspaper publisher was nearly shot full of holes on the dusty sands of the Sahara Desert, along the ancient waters of the Nile, all in the relentless pursuit of journalistic integrity for your county newspaper. At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Mostly, anyhow. ’Nuff said, for now.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
- Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, Verses 1-8, KJV
In the troubled mind of your poor, ink-stained scribe, there is no more lyrical prose than the Book of Ecclesiastes, one of the beautiful Poetry and Wisdom books of the Bible.
It is believed to have been written by wise old King Solomon near the end of his reign, and there is no more poetic verse in that magnificent tome than those quoted above.
The passage lists 14 “opposites,” which is a somewhat standard device in Hebrew poetry. While each time and season listed in the verses may seem random in their selection, the underlying theme denotes a divinely chosen purpose for everything, good and bad, which we experience in our lives.
These familiar lines are often quoted at funeral services as a comforting reminder of God’s sovereignty over all his creation. Our lives contain a mixture of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, harmony and struggle, life and death.
Each season has its own time to pass in the cycle of life. Indeed, the only thing constant in this life is change, as nothing in the physical world ever stays the same; and we, as God’s children, must learn to accept and adjust to the ebb and flow of His design.
Some seasons – as in pestilence, war, famine and our current pandemic of disease – are difficult to bear, and nearly impossible for us to understand.
In the wise words of the Rev. Mr. Wild Bill Dawson, pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church here in the county seat of Harrisville (more about him later), while we may not understand what God is doing in such trying times, we must humbly and faithfully trust in the Lord’s plan to work everything out according to His purpose.
Verse 7 above says there is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. I can say with all manner of certainty that in my six decades of life, I have too far often missed the former, and all too often seized the latter.
Nevertheless, I suppose that enough time has now passed that this story can be told.
There having been no formal requests made by the Egyptian government to extradite me for prosecution of my cultural crimes in the ancient land of the Pharaohs, nor any international warrants issued for my arrest, I think it high time to tell the tale of my near demise.
And if the story should now be told, I know of no better place for the telling of it than on the pages of this august newspaper, that being what almost got me shot to begin with.
Let us begin ...
When I was but a wee lad growing up amongst the weeds down on the waters of Low Gap, near Cairo, a stone’s throw away from North Bend State Park, the late William H. Mossor of Harrisville used to periodically sponsor trips to the Holy Land. Many local folks took advantage of the opportunity, and traveled across the world to see the famous sites and experience the cultures of Israel and Palestine.
Unfortunately, lacking both the financial means and the necessary age to take such a trip, all I could do was wonder at the possibilities of such a grand adventure.
Why, if only I had the chance ...
See you here next week, same time, same place, for the exciting conclusion.