“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
On a morning that radiated summer heat, several of us gently gathered into the sanctuary to sit awhile with our thoughts, remembering and giving thanks for Dr. Wilson Hall. For some he was a colleague and friend, who could be found coaxing a fire at a campsite, or paddling his canoe along a river, or mulling over an article just published. For others, including me, he was a professor and mentor. His lectures were laced with snatches of German, quotes from Thoreau, and musings on God. Gentle, but solid, he changed the lives of many, including my own, by reminding us that life was too beautiful to live carelessly; too brief to live without passion; too precious to live without hope.
Looking around that morning there were fellow classmates now thirty years older and thirty years grayer, as well as former professors long retired from their lecterns. It was a tender time with the air filled with eulogies (good words) spoken and unspoken. It was a blessed moment in time where tears were mixed with gratitude.
Just a few days later I was back in Northwest Georgia visiting dear friends from my first pastorate – Unity Baptist Church. Quite a few years ago they invested in me when I was toddling 21 year old, head-strong and full of answers no one was asking. Still these members believed in me and I came to believe in them. The church building is a charming, wood-framed structure perched on a hill surrounded by hayfields and patches of maples, oaks, and hickories. Just a few years ago the remaining membership decided to close the doors of the building for good and find new places to “go to church.” No one, after all, goes to country churches anymore. The children have grown up and gone away.
Yet they are still very much the church. That night I sat with these good people around a member’s pool and caught up with the couples I married, and in the ensuing years the births of their children. Someone said: “The little ones we all remember running around and enjoying the pool are now the parents of the little ones running around.”
So quickly time slips by, like Thoreau’s stream. What a gift it is to look around and give thanks for the life we have lived, the ones we have loved, and those that stand with us in the flow of eternity.
I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every one who eats and drinks sees good in all their labor– it is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13)