Last year at this time…we were peering out of our windows and hiding from our Pandemic. We not only did not gather for a traditional 4th of July but also Labor Day and Thanksgiving and Christmas…and that is the big one for us. What a difference a year makes. Traffic is in full force and the grocery stores are full of happy customers. I am going to bring down from our loft our Uncle Sam statue made by the artist Tom Clark…and display it proudly. Sunday we are cooking on our grill Rib Eye Steaks and enjoying the freedom of living without the pervasive fear of Covid 19.
Our church opens it’s doors to the congregation and the public for the first time in 16 months…this Sunday. This is probably my biggest joy for this 4th of July. For the term of the Pandemic our little congregation has weathered the storm with grace and dignity and dedication to attending Zoom Church. Pastor Kerry and the Session have been steadfast in facilitating the worship of First Presbyterian Church @ Carbondale with wit and ingenuity and love for the people of our faith community.
As a youngster I could procure snakes and sparklers and little else in Illinois due to firecrackers being against the law. However, there were always some to be had…if you knew the right people. Also, Cherry Bombs and M80’s and other dangerous noise makers for the holiday. We would usually watch the town fireworks display from my Grandma Askew’s front porch. She had a bird’s eye view of the Starlight Drive Inn…where the show was displayed. We would look on with dismay and marvel at the brilliant fire show in the sky. I do not recall pondering the birth of our nation…but I thought that the fireworks were very cool… The 4th of July seems to me to be the mid-point of summer. Of course it is not…but summer seems to slip away quickly after the 4th. Really, the measure of the rulers that we use to determine the length of our human celebrations and holidays…are all short. It is no doubt due to the fact that our time in this life…is not long. Everyday is a holiday if you are alive and have your health and someone who cares about you.
I throughly enjoyed spending many 4th of July holidays with by buddy Ron and his family. He always went all out to make us feel welcome and and I recall his supreme effort to ensure that his daughter, Tara, was having an enjoyable time and that the fireworks show that he was in charge of…was to die for… One fact that was crystal clear to me on each 4th when we visited Ron and Mary Jane…was that they adored their daughter and our niece…and their love was palpable.
We are the destination for the persecuted and the oppressed and the, ‘Wretched refuse of your teeming shores,’ we are the sanctuary for the marginalized and the unwanted and those who have no voice… Every time that I hear the Star Spangled Banner…tears come to my eyes… Liberals and conservatives…both love this country…and we will both celebrate the many gifts of our shared nation…this Sunday…