Jesse and I recently volunteered to work booths for our church and the public library during the Bois D’Arc Bash at the end of September. We both enjoyed talking with the people who were meandering about among the various tents at the Bash.
But what I enjoyed most was watching Jess as we worked the annual book sale at the Commerce Public Library.
I sat at the back and watched her chatting it up with Nan Clay and Carolyn Trezevant (aka Carolyn the Elder), sharing stories of working in libraries growing up. Jesse worked as a youth for a summer at a public library, as well as working a while at the Books A Million store in Longview in the early 2010s.
Hearing their stories and watching their smiles as they recalled those stories and talked about the going-ons around town made me realize again how much I enjoy living in a small town and watching Jesse get to better know these two stellar women, and how much I love my bride.
I haven’t had much time to reflect on things of late because of the all-around busyness of life right now, but that day caused me to consider more why I try to take the time to remember local history and to encourage friends, family, and anyone who’ll listen, to read books old and new, to read and study the “Good Book,” and to get to know your neighbors and neighborhood. A person who never takes the time to get to know their neighbors will always live next to strangers.
These past couple years in particular have been pretty eventful not only in my life and those in the county, but also in the nation and the world. Pretty disturbing, heartbreaking things. Seen a lot of people give up hope. Sadly, depression and suicide rates have been skyrocketing.
But I finished a book recently that helped give words to what I have been thinking about taking the time to do these seemingly small things – investing time in local libraries, being active in the local church, and taking the time to get to know others – when the world around us is constantly changing in often violent and disturbing ways.
Near the end of Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men,” Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, while reflecting on his life as sheriff for half a century, and his inability to stem the tide of moral degeneracy and abject evil, remembered an old stone well he saw when serving during WWII.
The man who built that well nearly two hundred years ago had lived during hard, uncertain times. Famine. War. Revolution.
Yet, Bell considered, this man still thought to hew this well from stone, to take the time, labor, and skill to build something that would last longer than his own life or the lives of his grand- and great-grandchildren. Lasted through the French Revolution and two world wars after it.
There are things older than whatever’s going on in our culture – older than this nation or any other one on God’s green earth. Ideas and ideals worth living, fighting, striving, and dying for. They were here before and they’ll still be here long after whatever controversy or upheaval comes our way.
That’s why I pass these local historical stories that Bettina sends my way onto readers, and why I try and consider Scripture and its implications and demands on my life so much. So much that seems so important right now are simply things that will soon fade.
“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away.”
Joseph Hamrick is a semi-professional writer and sometimes thinker. He lives in Commerce and serves as a deacon at Commerce Community Church (C3). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org