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MARCH 1, 2014

"Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired." Erik Erikson

Hello Alums and friends.

Best wishes to each of you in this winter of "winters". But behold, "sunshine always follows rain."

On February 13th I left Tarboro headed for Greensboro. When I drove on to US Bypass 64 West I popped a Dinah Washington CD into the system. The music was a delight. Real oldies. The pronunciation and diction were distinctive and understandable. Moreover, each song told a story or addressed a life situation. While not a musician, I could distinguish the instrumentation in the songs - strings, percussions, bass and so on. The drive was relaxing.

Some 60 plus minutes into the trip and near Chapel Hill, Track #16 - This Bitter Earth - came on. I had never really listened to the words of this song so intently:

This bitter earth

Well, what fruit it bears

What good is love

Mmmm that no one shares

And if my life is like the dust

Oooh that hides the glow of a rose

What good am I

Heaven only knows

Lord, this bitter earth

Yes, can be so cold

Today you're young

Too soon, you're old

But while a voice within me cries

I'm sure someone may answer my call

And this bitter earth

Ooooo may not

Oh be so bitter after all

For the next thirty miles or so into Burlington I listened to the two minute and thirty-second song over and over. I decided that the song told my story and perhaps your story too. Let me share.

This bitter earth bore me three beautiful children. A son and two daughters. While God, in his infinite wisdom, took my son at the age of four months in 1969, he has allowed my two girls to stay with me into my winter season of life. My oldest has given to me two wonderful grandsons. During my life as I have shared their love I have been so fortunate to share my love with a host of family – spouse, siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins as well as a sundry of fiends.

The speaker at my high school graduation remarked: “Everyone has a candle to be lit. Find your candle and light it for the whole world to see.” I hope that my life has not been like the dust that hides the glow of a rose. I hope that my life has been a beacon of service and a ray of godliness for all.

Yes, this bitter earth has been cold at times. During the Summer season of my life I struggled to raise and support a family while fighting against the biases of the society. I wondered, at times, why this albatross around my neck. Now, I feel that the Fall of my life was a measure of my youthful struggles. A testament to my contributions to the society. Yes, in this “Winter of my life,” there is voice within me that cries for the answer to the question: "Have I lived a meaningful life?" I believe that God has answered my call in the 30th Chapter of Psalms, the 5th verse: 

"For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."

In life we find ourselves reaping that which we have sown. God’s principle of reaping and sowing is one that is unchanging. If we have spent our energy in sowing good seeds then, “in the morning,” this bitter earth Ooooo may not Oh be so bitter after all.

God Bless You!


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