Lest we become too cocky, going about as if we are in charge of our lives, along comes an outer force named Irma, or Andrew or Hazel to remind us how minuscule our power is.
In the face of nature’s wrath, millions hunker down to ride it out, boarding up homes, stocking food and water, and, in many cases, resorting to prayers of intercession to our God.
Many flee to friends or relatives who live on higher ground or entirely out of harm’s way.
When our children were small, they would ask during times of storms, “Daddy, where do the birds go to be safe?”
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That question echoes in my mind during every hurricane alert. How does a bit of flesh and feathers no bigger than my thumb survive an Irma or an Andrew?
Perhaps they huddle together in a protective cedar tree or thick-leafed Japanese holly bush, or in an abandoned woodpecker nest inside a sturdy oak. And some may head for the bird houses that bird-loving Americans have erected across the land.
One wonders if, when strangers come to these boxes, some are turned away by selfish inhabitants insisting, in effect, that there is “no room at the inn.”
Or does the destructive threat of weather gone berserk melt the hearts of the inhabitants who, like their human counterparts, move over and make room for one more?
As we have observed, hurricanes and other national disasters bring out the best in most of us. That fact, along with the reminder of how vulnerable we are, may be their only benefits.
The way we were
It’s that time again, and the sound of cheering is heard in stadiums across America.
My memory flashes back to those golden autumn afternoons in Kenan Stadium.
Football season was often a legitimate excuse for a new dress for her. Off we’d go, me in jacket and tie, she in her new dress, high heels and hose.
It was pure football. No long time-out interruptions for blaring commercials over the loudspeakers. Instead, there were cheerleaders turning flips, building human pyramids, tossing each other in the air. A band was playing and strutting to and fro, and occasionally, a dog frolicked across the turf.
During my student days, there was also a slender, unimposing guy from Asheville with national name recognition darting through, over and around the defense, scoring touchdown after touchdown, sometimes causing the fans to spontaneously burst into “All the Way Choo-Choo,” a song that for a few years almost became the national anthem for college football.
Longtime friend Dick Taylor of Lumberton, who bleeds light blue and has choice seats, occasionally invites me to accompany him and his genial wife, Lenore, to the games. I have accepted a few times.
Although I enjoy their company, the game experience itself is not the same. Something is missing. I eventually figured it out. What’s missing for me is the sweet bird of youth I chased so joyfully during those long-ago yesteryears.
Not even the Bell Tower’s tolling “Hark the sound of Tar Heel voices, ringing clear and true” can bring it back.
Speaking of football, historian J.C. Knowles, who writes the very readable “North Carolina Minute” column, unearthed a football fact that should be of comfort to Wolfpack fans when things aren’t going their way. No matter how bad the score gets, it can get worse.
J.C. reports that on Nov. 10, 1918, in Atlanta, Georgia Tech made easy work of the N.C. State Wolfpack. John Heisman, Georgia Tech’s coach, stopped the game in the third quarter with the score Georgia Tech 128, Wolfpack 0.
One of the pleasures of church-going is observing the little folks during Children’s Church, when they gather down front for their lesson. The event is a form of “Religious Roulette,” as no one knows when one of the children may blurt out some memorable comment.
A friend’s daughter, Wesley Weaver, once provided an unforgettable moment during Children’s Church when she was a youngster.
The teacher concluded her commentary on God’s omnipresence by asking, “Now children, tell me, who is with you always, hears everything you say, goes everywhere you go and knows your every thought?”
Little Wesley responded immediately, frantically waving her hand in the air.
“I know! I know!” she said. “It’s my little sister Laura. I’ve been telling Mama I need to have my own room!”
Food for thought
Some people are kind, polite and sweet-spirited until you try to sit in their pews at church. (Anonymous)