Last week I was visiting my friend Julie and her family in Orlando, having just had an incredible two days working at the National Religious Broadcasters’ convention. She asked me a very simple question: “Have you seen I Am Second?” My answer was no, and she sat me down to show me a sample from the site. It would turn out to be something that has so deeply encouraged me that I knew I had to share it with you, and the more I hear people’s stories that have been a part of it, the more aware I am of how redeemable we can be if we let God love us.

I Am Second was started in Dallas by Norm Miller, the founder of Interstate Batteries. It was designed to strengthen believers in the DFW Metroplex area, and since then has become an international movement. The site, which can be found at iamsecond.com, is organized into topics such as anger, success, pornography, divorce abuse, drugs, fatherlessness, etc, and you can go straight to a topic or to the person who is telling their story. It is a feast and a “life hack,” and I am a raving fan.
The format is elegantly simple. People of all walks of life sit in a comfortable white chair and tell their stories and struggles as though they are at your kitchen table. They make it very clear that God is first and they are second, and they end their segment with “My name is so-and-so, and I am second.” Anyone can become a “second.” While the majority of people may be well known in their field, or be true celebrities who are household names, what is wonderfully jarring is the simple humility with which they tell their stories, on average in about seven minutes, and how quietly those stories seep into your soul and remind you that you are not alone.

Mike Huckabee talks about being a political figure, but with deep tenderness speaks of his wife’s health challenges. Scott Hamilton talks about being an Olympic Gold medal skater, as well as his battle with testicular cancer. Kathy Ireland talks about being a super-model, and what it took for her to pursue true and lasting beauty from within. LeCrae is a rapper, Josh Turner is a country music star, Stephen Baldwin is an actor, Bethany Hamilton is a surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack.
Each one of the stories of the famous folks is touching because it is so easy to think that fame and fortune equal happiness and a problem-free existence, and that is far from the case with these “seconds.” There are other stories of people whose lives were complete train wrecks, filled with crime, violence, prostitution, drugs, and while in a different way they light up the grace of God in neon, sometimes people who just have “regular lives” (whatever that is) feel as though they have no testimony of worth. However, the “normal people” show up on I Am Second, too, and their stories are just as riveting.

I have always found that learning the back story of anything– a song, a book, or a person– invariably gives a depth and ballast to what they have created, but I was not prepared for what I heard from film maker Alex Kendrick. Alex and his brother Stephen are the producers of Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, and War Room. Their success is an anomaly in the movie industry, but what I learned from Alex sitting in “the white chair” is that his own marriage was in trouble when Fireproof was being produced, and he actually had to apply the 40 day marriage challenge called The Love Dare to his own relationship with his wife. Alex had to come face-to-face with the fact that he wasn’t stepping up as a dad, and the call to fathers that is so beautifully portrayed in Courageous is in part based on his own life.

Alex knows that each story they produce is going to be harder and harder to do, and the cost will get deeper, no matter what return is garnered at the box office, but he is willing to be second, and he inspires me to be truly second. Will you join me?

When I was a kid back in 1966, Diana Ross and the Supremes had a hit song entitled, “You Can’t Hurry Love.” It is still considered to be one of the top 500 songs that shaped contemporary music, and it was based on a gospel song that was produced in the 1950s. The most notable part of the song is the chorus, immortalizing the words of a wise mom who says to her daughter:

You can’t hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said, “Love don’t come easy, it’s a game of give and take”

The chorus is repeated, and the young woman is barely comforted as she laments her loneliness, but ultimately, she hangs on to the words of her mother.

It’s 50 years later, and while humans don’t change all that much intrinsically, parents and grandparents who weathered their own storms with regard to love and relationships are up against some new challenges when it comes to helping their younger loved ones: social media. We now have the ability to instantly and without any filters let the entire planet know how things make us feel as many times a day as we choose, and, our “friends” are expected to respond each time. Part of the reason this format is so powerful is that every time someone responds, a small bit of dopamine, one of the neurotransmitters that causes us to feel good, is released, and thus our complaint is rewarded with a tiny and only temporary fix.

You might ask, “Well, isn’t that the same as going to a friend or loved one to gain solace?” No, and the reason is deceptive. If you go to a friend who listens and gives you wise counsel, you hear their voice, you see their eyes, you might have a cup of tea, you might get a hug, and perhaps they will pray for you right then and there. It is the cumulative effect of “facelook” as opposed to Facebook that can help turn the tide more readily and with better results.

By contrast, emojis are at best well-meaning masks, or in the case of the furious ones, not so much. Please understand, I am not trying to bash social media here, and I have been gratified at times when I have gotten a ton of “likes,” whether it’s related to Athens Now or my own page. I am just saying that our kids first of all are told they are ultra special and invincible from morning till night, they “deserve”_________ (just fill in the blank), are given trophies for showing up, and have helicopter parents hovering over them in case they “fall down and go boom,” literally or emotionally. Millennials are miserable, and some of the fault is ours.

How do we manage this ourselves, no matter what age we are, or healthfully help our young people? No one likes to be told, “You just have to wait. Love don’t come easy…” Like all things that really matter, it’s by instilling in ourselves and our kids the belief that delayed gratification makes everything sweeter, deeper, and more fulfilling. And more importantly, it is walking in the truth that if you want love, you need to give it. In addition, you need to become your best self so that you are not a black hole that sucks any love that does come your way into the far reaches of your emotional universe. We are in a season where we are talking a lot about love—love of Athens, love of country, love of freedom, love of God. “Love don’t come easy,” just ask our Savior. But pursuing a life of love is always worth it.

I have a love-hate relationship with what has come to be known in America as “Awards Season.” Most of the time you have to squint and wince to see past inflated egos in order to find any redeemable God-given talent; often you really have to prepare yourself for all manner of bizarre and/or inappropriate fashion or political statements. Sometimes you just groan and shake your head, wondering if all the world has gone daft. Sometimes I have yelled at the TV, as though it had any control over people’s choices, artistic or otherwise. And yes, I do realize that I have control over the remote, but what fun is that?

However, there is a sassy little songstress by the name of Joy Villa who has successfully and royally rankled the Hollywood and Nashville creative establishment, and is currently laughing all the way to the bank. She made history for her notable moxie at the recent Grammy Awards, and to me her story is utterly refreshing as well as worth the telling.

First, we are going to look at Joy’s appearance, the wonderfully diverse package in which she lives. Next, we will discuss her dress designer, along with the now iconic dress Joy wore to the Grammys. Finally, we will discuss the blowback as well as her currently burgeoning bank account.

Joy is quintessentially American, a veritable one woman melting pot. Her father was an Italian American Reverend, and by contrast, Joy is a Scientologist. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for those discussions! Her mother was African American and Choctaw, and Joy sports a ‘fro that vies that of Angela Davis, as well as cheekbones that would make Senator Elizabeth Warren green with envy. The coup d’état is that Joy is married to a Danish photographer and writer by the name of Thorsten Overgaard, and he happens to be nearly a quarter century her senior.

Joy’s dress designer, Andre Soriano, legally immigrated to the United States from the Philippines and is homosexual. He is also by his own admission a Trump supporter, a lover of America, and according to one interview, he said the dress is made out of a Trump flag he had flying at his house. When Andre heard statements made at the Women’s March suggesting that it would be a good idea to blow up the White House, he had had enough. He told Joy, “You know what? We have to make a statement, we have to put America together, and we have to promote love. And since her music is about love, and I have this Trump flag in front of my house, I’m like, ‘I’m going to make you a Trump gown, sweetheart,’ and then that’s what happened.”

So, Joy arrives at the Grammys doing deep cover in a white cloak, removes the cloak, struts the gown, and boy, then it was on like Donkey Kong. The ever tolerant and love-centric Left called for her death, literally, or at the very least, the death of what they felt was a pathetic career. She was called a “red carpet troll,” as well as other things which cannot be printed, but I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams and/or nightmares could have anticipated what happened next.

On Sunday night prior to Joy’s gutsy move, her 2014 album, ironically entitled, I Make The Static was listed on Amazon at number 543,502. Honestly, I had no idea they had ratings that went down by half a million, but there it was. And then, it blasted up to the Number 1 slot, past Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, et al, and it was still there when we went to print. As is the case with so many things going on today, the only thing you can do when something like this happens is scratch your head and mutter something along the lines of “Only in America.” Joy Villa has intestinal fortitude, and our country is rewarding her for it far more than it is vilifying her. When asked why she did what she did, Joy said simply, “You can either stand for what you believe in or fall for what you don’t.” I couldn’t agree more.

It’s February, and depending on your level of cynicism, love is in the air or being extracted from your wallet. This is the month when love is celebrated and upon which it is capitalized commercially, and in our culture, we tend to get either squishy or grumpy about the demand in February to tangibly prove our love to those we love. You’ll find that in this edition of Athens Now the theme throughout is love, from love for the city, love for chocolate and history, love in food, properly loving the muscle that pumps blood throughout your body, and on it goes.

Why are humans so obsessed with love? We literally can’t help it; we were hard-wired for it by our Creator. How do we know that’s true? Faith and science. Now, here in the region of the Rocket City I am sure there are people of letters that pooh pooh the idea that faith and science can peacefully co-exist, let alone corroborate each others’ findings, and I am not here to debate them. To me it takes way more faith to believe in scientism than it does to believe in creation or intelligent design, but that’s a topic for another day.

What is now being able to be seen in our brains and our hearts is that the only way we function well is on love. It was first discovered in 1998 by Dr. P. Eriksson that our brains are made to change for the better, and the term neuroplasticity was formed to describe the process. Prior to that, it was believed that we were born with a certain number of brain cells, and our personalities were basically set by the age of seven. It’s simply not true, and even the most cynical of scientists know it, they just don’t always know what to do with the implications. It is now possible to literally see the difference between a brain bathed in the chemicals of love and forgiveness, and a brain made brittle by bitterness. The latter looks like a forest of burned trees.

We now know that we have a heart brain, that literally the heart and brain are linked together in function and purpose. We also know that “going by your gut” is not just something that Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs does each Tuesday night on NCIS, it’s a function of your brain that is not to be dismissed.

The brain registers social rejection in the exact way that it registers physical pain, and by contrast, love has a powerful impact on our total health. Dr. Amy Banks, MD, an instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School said the following: “…Being pushed out of social relationships and into isolation has health ramifications. In fact, there was a book done by health advocate Dr. Dean Ornish, called Love and Survival. There has been study after study done on the positive impact of loving relationships. What he had said at the time in that book was that if we had a drug that did for our health what love does, it would far outsell anything that has ever been made. The efficacy is that potent.”

Dr. Caroline Leaf, Ph.D, neuroscientist and author of numerous books on the topic, including Who Switched Off My Brain? puts it this way: “Our choices—the natural consequences of our thoughts and imagination—get “under the skin” of our DNA and can turn certain genes on and off, changing the structure of the neurons in our brains. So our thoughts, imagination, and choices can change the structure and function of our brains on every level:”

Literally, love makes good sense, and not just in February, so let’s get after choosing to grow new hearts and brains all year long. We’ll all be better for it.

In the last week, we have been exposed to everything from the threat leveled toward attendees of the Inauguration of Donald Trump being punched in the throat, to the intention of lawmakers that they will make “history” by boycotting the ceremony and the festivities, to the plans of some to stage a coup because they believe that the election was hacked by the Russians. Lots of Vitamin D, which in this case stands for Drama with a capital D, and no matter where you land politically, it is embarrassing.

In the midst of this, a fresh breeze engendered by a look back in time has emerged in the form of a wonderful book written by Fox News Correspondent Brett Baier. It is about one of my greatest heroes, President Dwight David Eisenhower. There are a number of reasons why Ike is so dear to my heart. The first is that he was my grandfather’s lieutenant during WWI. Ike and my grandfather, Ernest Glenn Hersman were married in the same year, 1916. Ike married Mamie, and my grandfather married Mimi, the former Mary Gertrude Turner. Gumbo, (our nickname for our grandfather) had stories about Ike, one of which involved getting sent by Lt. Eisenhower on a 20-mile ruck march for being inebriated, but I digress. We all loved Ike; he was the man under whom my dad served during WWII, and one of the few times I saw my dad cry was when we watched Ike’s funeral on our old black and white TV in the spring of 1969.

Mr. Baier chose to write his book largely because, in his view, Eisenhower was one of the most under-appreciated Presidents ever, and Bret felt the things he discovered about Ike are most helpful for the times in which we live. It is not at all well known that Harry Truman did not handle Ike winning the Presidential election of 1952 in what we would consider a mature manner, and while Harry didn’t blame it on the Cold War, the rift between them was so great that Ike and Bess did not go in for the traditional pre-Inauguration breakfast with the Trumans.

Instead, they sat outside in the car. In turn, after the ceremony, Ike offered to fly the Trumans home, and Harry declined his offer. They took the train instead. All of this in an era of much better manners than those of our era of social media, as well as inviolate protocol as far as the “peaceful transfer of power,” was concerned and yet, our nation survived. I believe we will again.

For his book, Baier did an incredible amount of research, and was allowed to read old letters and other documents stored in boxes that had long been forgotten, and whose significance had never been perceived. His work has paid off, and Three Days In January is a monster best seller.

Ike was someone who despised politics and over-inflated egos. He had to deal with notable arrogance during WWII in the form of Generals Patton and Bradley, and I am sure that by the time JFK was elected, he was more than ready to get back to his home in Kansas. I have visited that home, and the similarity between it and my grandparents’ house was almost eerie.

Three Days In January focuses on the way Eisenhower handed over the country to JFK, a man young enough to be his son. It discusses Ike’s farewell address, something which would turn out to be uncomfortably prescient. It is carefully crafted, meticulously organized, and a superb look into times that on the surface appear to have been far more innocent than ours.

The picture used for the cover of the book shows that one of Ike’s most important tasks came not long after JFK was inaugurated. Kennedy came to need everything Ike had been through, both as a president as well as a general, to guide us through the Cuban Missile Crisis. The new President flew the former President to Camp David, and together they came up with a way to read what was going on with Castro and get us through it. However, true to form, Ike didn’t try to grab any glory. He just found a way to serve his country once again, and his example as well as the story is a true pleasure.

We are in the infancy of a brand new year, and while there are troops on the Russian border, and in a few days the Donald will add “POTUS” to his CV, if ever there were a time to resist the temptation to be cynical, it is now. Why? What’s the point? It is this: life and the One who created it are far bigger and more powerful than the Russians, Trump, Hollywood, ISIS, the IRS, the CIA, the FBI, or any other of the alphabet soup groups.

We are alive in extraordinary times, but for those who look for it, every season in the history of a culture or a nation is extraordinary. If it were Athens of 1817, it would have been an amazing time. Pioneers came to settle the land against all odds, and now it is a marvelous place to live. If it were before, during or after the War Between the States, it would have been as well, because there was valor, and there was renewal, neither of which came cheaply. If it were WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, or any war since, important history was being made, and stellar people drew breath and defined us as a nation. If it were the ‘50s or the ‘60s, the Civil Rights era, the Reagan administration, the Clinton administration, the Obama administration, or whatever awaits us after the 20th of this month, there is never any shortage of the potential for greatness being exhibited for all to enjoy.

Now that I am a “seasoned citizen,” I am aware more than ever that while to some my “glory days” are over, to me I am just getting started. I heard someone say today on the radio that decades ago a doctor had told him about a 95 year old man who, upon being questioned by the doctor during an annual exam, was asked the secret to his longevity and health, and the elderly man answered simply, “Never let an old man live in your body.”

That doesn’t mean dress like a teenager when you are north of 70, it doesn’t mean getting hair plugs or Botox, it means carefully nourishing your whole being so that there is something that is transcendent of age which then becomes your signature, and you make it legible for the willing to read. And, for the discerning, it is becoming a being on whom our Maker can leave His fingerprints without hesitation.

This past year was both glorious as well as seemingly impossible on a number of fronts, but on we trudge toward the City made without hands. There were relationships that blew up, and relationships that were restored. I ran several 5Ks, and am preparing for my next one later this month. In a few days I am going to go on my first cruise to the Bahamas, the first true vacation I have had in awhile. I am genuinely excited, even thrilled, but the portending diversion does not allow me to escape my question, “What is the point?” I think the best way to answer it is to remember the words of Micah when he said, “He has shown thee oh man what is good, and what does the Lord require of thee. But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” That is the point in any era, and oh, the stories we shall have to tell if we make it our quest. So, Happy New Year, dear Athenians! Find your “point,” and make it sharp.

Are You A Fresnel Or A Flake?

We are in what Jews and Christians alike call The Season of Light, and this year, wonderfully, they nearly coincide. Hanukkah begins on December 23rd, the celebrations overlap, and I am looking forward to both. The Savior whose birth we celebrate had a star assigned to Him by His Heavenly Father, and it led the Babylonians straight to Him. Light was intrinsic to the completion of their search and the fulfillment of prophecy.

If there had been no Maccabees, and Antiochus’ particular holocaust had been successful, there would be no miraculous birth to celebrate, no reason to bless anyone with gifts, sing any songs, cook special foods, or to gather with friends and family. Once again, a miracle occurred in the form of the menorah being lit for eight days when there was only enough oil for one day. And it is no surprise that it was light sustained by the Father of lights.

Lately I have been fascinated by the life and work of a scientist by the name of Augustin-Jean Fresnel. His name is pronounced fruh-NELL, (the “s” is silent,) and the man was a true visionary when it comes to light. In the late 18th and early 19th century, he developed a system of beveled lights that, when properly configured, could exponentially increase the power of light long before the use of electricity or lasers.

What was Fresnel’s most famous application for his discovery? They were the lights that were placed in lighthouses. They saved lives, comforted travelers, provided guidance, and were staggeringly beautiful, day or night, due to the fact that science and art had passionately kissed. The Fresnel lights are as mesmerizing as they are protective, and I never get tired of looking at them.
Here is what amazes me about Fresnel: he did what he did in the midst of the French Revolution, was utterly rejected, and he also had tuberculosis. TB took his life at the age of 39. Let’s just say he got the job done in the face of extraordinary adversity, was way ahead of his time, and he didn’t exactly have a “safe space” to run to if the Revolution got rowdy.

This brings me to the question which is the topic of this Publisher’s Point: Are you a Fresnel or a flake? I am not trying to imply that if people don’t develop a technology that is unparalleled, and is still in use all over the world two centuries later, their value is in question. You don’t have to be a Fresnel to shine brightly, just don’t be a snowflake. Don’t be so weak that if your convictions are challenged or your candidate isn’t elected, you start melting and need a safe space provided by the US government to which to retreat. Don’t be a snowflake that vanishes the moment there is heat. Be someone who joins with other “prisms” to give light in this Season of Light, and always.

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to one and all!

12-2-2016-8-50-21-amFor the second time in a year, I have been mesmerized by a poster on a wall in the First United Methodist Church’s choir practice room. The first time was in December of 2015 when I wrote an article for the Heritage Children’s Chorale’s Christmas Concert. It is now December of 2016, HCC is giving another concert, and this time, I had the chance to stand in front of the poster for awhile during their practice. This time I wrote it down word for word, soaking it up and wanting to send it out. Given everything from the events of the recent Presidential election, to the selection of President-elect Trump’s Cabinet, to the death of Fidel Castro, I have been taking a hard look at leadership – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hearing the words of the Gatlinburg Fire Chief thanking his crew for fighting the terrorism of arson unwaveringly while he lost his own home, made me remember that firefighters and first responders are among the most wonderful leaders we are blessed to have in our midst. The way communities are working once more to dig out from the rubble of yet another twister could only be fueled by passion and walked out through leadership.

12-2-2016-8-50-29-am

Learning how to be an excellent leader is daunting, but perhaps the following words from the FUMC poster will serve to inspire:
The heart of all effective leadership begins with passion.
Not all passionate people are leaders, but all good leaders are passionate.
In the spiritual world passion comes from God and His work in our lives.
Passion motivates us to risk, trust, and attempt great things for the right reasons.

Usually the word “Passion,” when it is used in a Christian context, refers to what our Savior went through on Calvary. But, given the above statements, the word passion aptly describes the divinely inspired military leadership of the Macabees, the faith of Mary and Joseph, and in a word, is the “reason for the season” and far beyond. As a side note, we need to remember that without the passion of the Macabees, we would have no Savior, nor His birth to celebrate. We would have no menorah to light, no Hannukah (Feast of Dedication) to observe, as did Yeshua, and really nothing about which to be passionate.

I remember an example of cowardice in leadership, long before political correctness became pandemic. It was nearly 25 years ago, and the King County Commissioner of Washington State actually sent out a memo that told county employees that they were not allowed to wish each other “Merry Christmas” on King County property because it might be “offensive.” He might have been “passionate” about his position, but I think he missed the part of the poster that says, “Passion motivates us to risk, trust, and attempt great things for the right reasons.” Putting the pinch on the First Amendment is never a good idea, nor does it make any sense to secularize Christmas on the way to eliminating it completely from our culture. At the very least, it is the misuse of both passion and leadership.

We are called to lead in some way, whether it is by being a great example to our children or the head of a great corporation. Whatever your calling, lead well, and lead with passion while you “attempt great things for the right reasons.” May God bless each of you this Hannukah and Christmas and always.
12-2-2016-8-50-42-am

11-18-2016-2-13-13-pmI can’t take credit for the saying which is the title of this Point. They were the words of Joshua Wooden that he taught to his boys over a century ago. You’ve never heard of Joshua Wooden? Well, perhaps you’ve heard of his boy, the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. If you are a collegiate or professional basketball fan, you may know that Wooden was one of the “winningest” coaches ever, having won 10 NCAA championships in a 12 year period, seven of those in a row. Wooden coached a gambit of UCLA players, from actor Beau Bridges, Lakers’ legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes, to the Clippers’ controversial Bill Walton. He also personally mentored a number of other sports figures, both male and female, coaches of all kinds, and leadership training icons such as Ken Blanchard, Tony Robbins, and John Maxwell. Wooden died in 2010, about six months before his 100th birthday, and while he had left the basketball court decades earlier, he never stopped coaching, clear til the end.

11-18-2016-2-13-24-pm
The day I heard a montage of Wooden’s teachings, as well as extensive interviews with the people whose lives he touched, I was in great need of a little societal elegance in the recent aftermath of the election. People were being paid by George Soros to pitch fits because they hadn’t gotten what they wanted as far as their presidential candidate was concerned. Teachers were telling students that Donald Trump was like Adolph Hitler, and a woman was filmed defecating in the street and then smearing feces on a Donald Trump sign. In addition, women stood outside Trump Towers with placards that said, “Rape Melania.” Other folks were sporting safety pins on their shirts to indicate that they were “safe people,” and my husband responded by putting five safety pins on the pocket of his T-shirt in the form of a cross. It is a blessing to be married to a truly safe man, a warrior to be sure, but a safe one.

As I listened to Wooden talk about a visual he created over a 15 year period beginning in the ‘30s, the “Pyramid of Success,” I realized that he was far more than a coach, he was a philosopher, and a quiet preacher. He was a Christian, and drew out Lew Alcindor’s best, even after Lew converted to Islam and became Kareem. Kareem spoke at John’s memorial service, and said that it really was true, Wooden didn’t use foul language, and he wanted far more for his players than to just win games or titles. He spoke of the power of John’s faith, and vowed to keep Wooden’s legacy alive. It was clear that Kareem loved Coach, and that losing him was painful.

There were so many things about John that touched me, but one thing stood out as to his gentlemanliness in triumph. When the Bruins would be within 90 seconds of taking a national championship, Wooden would call a time out, the last of the game. He always made sure to save one, and during it he would tell his guys that in no way were they going to make fools of themselves as they took the title. There would be time to celebrate with abandon, but first they would shake the hands of those they had defeated while congratulating them for a game well played. Then the Bruins would walk off the court with poise, which happened to be one of the blocks located near the top of Wooden’s “Pyramid.”

While there are 25 different parts to “the Pyramid,” the whole concept can be summed up in the phrase of Joshua Wooden: “Make each day your masterpiece.” Wooden basically defined success as knowing that at the end of the day, if you can look at yourself in the mirror and know that you did your best, you are a success, period.

While we face an uncertain future as our nation moves ahead, may we make the choice, individually and as a culture, to make each day a masterpiece by doing and being our best.
11-18-2016-2-13-36-pm

11-4-2016-8-57-33-amThis week, in a way that I don’t remember in my 63 years, things are melting down around us on a hourly basis. I prayerfully thought, “What am I going to say? By the time we go to print, my thoughts could very well be a complete non sequitur, maybe more so than usual. People are flat done with this election cycle, even in Limestone County. I can’t bear the ‘nails-on-the-chalkboard’ sound of Hillary Clinton’s voice one more moment, and I am fully comfortable as an Alabamian being a ‘bitter clinger,’ contentedly experiencing life in my condo on the top floor of the Deplorable Basket. The view from there is glorious. What can I say that will be true to the purpose of Athens Now, and that is to bring ‘information and inspiration’ to our readers?”

11-4-2016-8-57-50-am

I thrashed around for awhile, and then two words came to mind: salt and light. No matter what happens on November 8th, there is a very real way that nothing will change. We still have the responsibility to be salt and light wherever we are. But, what does that mean?

Let’s talk about salt first. What is the purpose of salt? To give you high blood pressure? No, salt basically has two functions: to preserve as well as to add flavor. For centuries, before there was refrigeration, salt was what kept the humans of our planet from starving to death in the winter. Meat was salted so it wouldn’t spoil. And, we have all had that experience of eating something that “needed salt.” There can be such a strong sense of “so close, and yet so far,” when you eat something that is unable to burst forth with flavor because its powerful ally is missing action.
If one chooses to stretch the concept of “preserving” just a touch, here are some other things salt can do: get rid of flower residue in a vase, keep wicker looking new, give long life to a broom, remove wine or grease stains from your carpet, empower you to make your own brass polish, remove water marks from wood, and even restore a sponge! So, here’s the obvious life lesson: if your personal nightmare is that Hillary becomes President, then make yourself useful in a tangible way. For heaven’s sake, and I do mean that literally, don’t “let your salt lose its saltiness.” If you do, you are asking for being trod under in a rather unpleasant manner, and that warning comes from the One who loves you most.

What about light? What does it do? Light illuminates, light guides, it warms, it cooks, it cuts through steel as well as aneurisms. It is the cousin of sound, it is the basis of color, it helps plants grow, it sanitizes, and it refreshes. If your idea of complete disaster is having Donald move out of his hotel into the White House, then “let your light so shine before men,” and make sure that your light is indeed light, and is in no way part of the darkness you see all around you.

Choose to preserve and serve, warm and guide as you are feeling led from on high; then live or die, you will be just fine.
11-4-2016-8-58-00-am