The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 1:20 pm Friday, January 13, 2023

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What’s on My Plate?

By Stephanie Williams Dean

I keep seeing both memes and questions pop up on Facebook asking us to reflect on the past year. The questions ask readers,” What’s a lesson you learned last year that you’ll carry into the New Year.”

I could write a page – the answers roll easily off the top of my head. Quickly, I sum up many examples.  And that’s a good thing because God expects each of us to learn from experience and grow in spiritual wisdom. That’s how we mature as Christians.

But then I began to consider just how fast I targeted what I learned about other people – and not myself. Considering you can’t change anyone else and can only change yourself – that’s a useless exercise. So instead of zeroing in on others – I began to ask myself what lesson the experiences had taught me.

Interestingly, the answers didn’t come as easily when I applied the question to myself. But this was what was most important – me. My spiritual growth – to consider what I learned about myself in the process. How did each experience help me to see something new about myself I didn’t realize before? How did the interaction help me grow in spiritual wisdom? What about someone else’s behavior made me recognize or learn something about myself?

How did each circumstance make me live more Christ-like, walk in His ways, be a better person, grow closer to the Lord, and deepen my faith? And ultimately – how are these realizations about myself going to help me better serve the Lord in the New Year? It’s not about other people and their lives – it’s about my life. It is “me” who needs to change – not other people.

This thought leads me to another point about the spiritual food I’m being served in the New Year. Of course, I’m interested in other people and what’s on their plates.  I’m compassionate – I care deeply for others and their problems.

But rather than hear the details about the lives of others – I want to hear about what’s happening in your life. How do you plan to spiritually nourish yourself this year? What goals have you set and how do you plan to meet them? How are you going to grow closer to Christ and gain deeper spiritual wisdom? That’s the kind of food I find nourishing and healthy. In the long run, aren’t these questions, in fact, more beneficial to how we relate to and help one another?

So this year, I want to partake in more meaningful discussions. As it relates to others – gossip, judgment, comments, and pointless talk – please serve my plate less of that.

But, reading, praying, growing, and walking with the Lord – I’ll surely reach for another helping.

A New Year

By Linda H. Barnette

First of all, I give thanks to God for another year. Even at 81 my health is ok, and I am still on my feet!!

2023 will be my first year alone, so that is both different and difficult. When I am in the house, I find myself starting to talk to John.  This morning I picked up both his coffee cup and mine when I first went into the kitchen.  But I am told that this too will pass.

My plan for the new year is to get involved again in activities that I enjoy and had to give up for both COVID and John’s lengthy illness.

I want to continue with my writing of memoirs and my genealogy work. Thanks to the help of several friends, notably Barbara Harvel and Marie Craig, my book “The Story of My Family” was self-published last summer.  It was a Christmas gift to my family a few weeks ago, and they were pleased to have it as a keepsake. As with many things, my wish is that my dad and my Grandmother Smith could know about my little book since they were responsible for my interest in family history.

My hopes for 2023 are to read more books, write more stories, work on some more family history, participate in a Bible Study, become more active in church, to continue learning to play the handbells, spend more time with family and friends, to gain 5 pounds, and start back in an exercise program.

My wish for all of you is that you have a happy new year and that you are able to do many of the things that you enjoy!

Time And You

By David R. Moore

Most observe the start of a new year; however, few reflect on how the concept of time affects them as an individual.  Man has been trying to understand time for thousands of years.  The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclius of Ephesus said, “Everything flows,” which intuitively describes movement and change, which are the basis of reality like a flowing river with no two points the same, meaning man cannot enter the exact same river twice.  When a man enters the river a second time, it is no longer the same river, and the man is also no longer the same person he was when he first entered the river.  A contemporary of Heraclitus was another Greek philosopher, Parmenides of Elea.  Parmenides had a different view of time, not based on intuition.  He claimed change and movement were impossible since the world was one, eternal, and static.  What man experienced was only a single moment of the present.  Only the memories of past moments gave the illusion of change and movement.  A modern analogy of his view is thinking of a filmstrip where every moment is only a frozen image.

There were no easy answers regarding the concept of time.  Saint Augustine wrote in the 5th century, “What is time?  If no one asks me, I know.  But if I wish to explain it to him, who asks, I do not know.”  But throughout history, most believed the perception of time was intuitive and expressed as an absolute and continuous axis of time which served as the platform for the flow of events (i.e., change and movement) which takes place one after the other.  Isaac Newton’s laws of physics strengthened the idea the universe was like a mechanical clock, a system made up of parts, a combination that created new and wonderous things, all working in a regular movement, never stopping, or deviating.  Movements of objects (astrological and smaller) could be explained and predicted based on velocities and momentum.  Man became comfortable in measuring and describing change or movement using time units (i.e., years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds, etc.)

A little over a hundred years ago, the concept of time being eternal and unchanging was upended when Albert Einstein published his theory of special relativity and later his theory of general relativity.  Time was no longer absolute but part of space relative to the observer.  Modern physicists proved through experiments using atomic clocks that time was relative to the observer.  Even more damaging to man’s ego and trusting his intuition was the development of quantum theory, a platform based on wave function (i.e., probability).  Within the last few decades, physicists again proved with experimentation related to quantum entanglement that time was not absolute and continuous.

There was always difficulty in accepting new theories that go against basic intuition.  Still, eventually, people reconciled to the rejection of those false beliefs (e.g., the earth is the center of the universe, the earth is flat, and man cannot fly).  People have recognized time is relative to the individual.  Who has not observed time being slow (e.g., sitting in a classroom watching a clock hand move, waiting for Christmas or a birthday, or waiting for a workweek to end) or fast (e.g., vacations, weekends, or seeing kids grow) relative to the outside observer (viewing his own clock)?  However, people rationalized that the slowness or fastness in time they experienced was just in their head and the clock of the outside observer was the “true” passage of time because, intuitively, they were more comfortable with an absolute time.  That is a false narrative.  Now is the moment to reject that belief and grasp the idea each of us has an individual and unique sense of time.  A time relative to each person.  Expressions have already been used acknowledging time is unique to the individual (e.g., take all the time you want, your time–not mine, you have an internal clock, your sweet time, time on your hands, your fun time, or your sad time).  For those dubious that time is not relative to the individual, ask any older person if time passes more quickly as they get older.  So try to accept the new paradigm, get comfortable, and discover life at the rate that belongs solely to you.  You will like it.

Country Store

By  E. Bishop

Few places can elicit nostalgia like the good old-fashioned country store.  As you walk into a Mast General Store in Boone or Lanier Hardware in Lexington today, you are able to get a small glimpse of what it might have been like in days gone by.  Country stores would generally be the first business in a new settlement and sometimes the town would take its name from the store itself.  These general stores were a valuable asset to the rural populations of small towns of America.

According to “Legends of America” peddlers would bring goods to a beginning settlement and establish themselves a store if enough, people warranted it.  These establishments provided food and necessities that would have otherwise been difficult to come by.  Oftentimes, the store housed the post office; the owner might also be the town clerk, justice of the peace or even the undertaker.  A wide variety of goods were offered filling the store from floor to ceiling that might include pots and pans, spices, boots and bullets to penny candy. Not only did it provide goods, but it also served as a social and message center for the community.  For rural families, going to the country store was a treat.

However, in the 1930’s, supermarkets began to spring up everywhere; the small general stores could not compete and gradually began closing.  But, in rural Davie County, we still had several of those small places although not stocked quite like the ones of the past. I can remember my daddy taking me to the store in his first and only truck, a 1947 five -window Chevrolet truck, to probably pick up some of those nasty unfiltered Camel cigarettes he smoked.  And, one time, when I was small, but old enough to know better, I stole a piece of candy.  When I drive the mile to the end of our road now, I look to the left and see only memories.  That old store run by Viola Josey and later bought by my brother, Tom, is only a shell of what it used to be.

Unlike places like out West or in Appalachia even today, our little farming community had several places to get needed supplies.  Not only did we have Josey’s, but just north about four miles was Greasy Corner (it is called that because once upon a time, that intersection had a gas station on each corner). When I was very young, my sisters and I would sometimes walk (south) less than a mile through the woods from our house to a little store run by Jake and Ashlee McDaniel.  They lived in a huge farmhouse across from the store; this is where my sister Mary lives now.  When we took that walk, we would visit an elderly woman named Ms. Dot Ford also.  That house on 601 where she lived near the river is still standing and has a hauntingly sad story that goes with it.

Our parents provided all we needed with the help of Josey’s, Foster’s and Martin Brothers. And there’s nothing like being taken to that old country store and getting treated to a 6 1/2-ounce cold Coca-Cola in the bottle, and maybe a piece of penny candy.