I did something recently that I haven’t done in a long time. I took a walk in the country along a stream and across a meadow where flowers were starting to grow near newly plowed ground.
The easy walk began to slow my mind, to quiet my thoughts, to bring back memories, and to untangle thoughts of work and life.
It hasn’t been an easy week. Illness has swarmed around us. Sorrow has visited our friends, the Fizer and Boggs families. Ashley Boggs Fizer, only 28 years old, was called home to be with the Lord last Thursday. Our hearts were broken.
Across town, Amanda L. Carter of Hillsboro, only 34 years old, passed away on Friday, April 28 at the Hospice of Hope Ohio Valley Inpatient Center. Amanda worked at the local Job and Family Services Department, and left us much too soon.
Death is never easy. And the death of a young person is especially heartbreaking and traumatic. It is difficult to understand why the young die. We are left bewildered and speechless. Those of us who are older particularly mourn because we know how sweet and fleeting life can be.
During my walk I thought about life and death. The stream reminded me of simpler times growing up in Port William, and the many times I spent walking along similar waterways.
As I sauntered along, I tried to let all else fall away. Beside the trickling water was a small path one could easily tell had been traversed countless times before either by humans, animals, or both.
A million thoughts always seem to be in my mind, quickly darting about. As I followed the path, something began to happen that was a welcome change. My hurried mind slowly gave way to other senses, like a cool breeze passing through a screen door.
I stood for moments watching the flowing water pass by. As I approached my car, I enjoyed one of my favorite feelings in the entire world. I stood on a large worn rock and felt the warming and healing radiance of the sun. For a minute there, life’s burdens, sorrows, and trials diminished.
The following day, Thursday, May 4, was the National Day of Prayer.
Every year for the last 20 years, the faithful women of Faith Baptist Church have provided a breakfast for government officials. Senior Pastor Jim Riggle, and Pastor Tom Garlock before him, offered words from the Scripture and prayed for the public servants in Wilmington and Clinton County.
As I was leaving the breakfast at the City Building, I decided to take a walk downtown. I stopped first at the Wilmington House of Prayer Community Prayer Room. Larry and Robyn Morris opened the House of Prayer, during one of the most difficult times in Clinton County history. People felt they had nowhere to turn, but many turned to prayer and God for strength and help in the House of Prayer.
The small meeting place offers a place where the faithful can go and offer prayers at all hours. The custom is based on the Scripture, “Could you not watch one hour with Me?”
In a culture filled with crime and disrespect for others, it took incredible faith and courage to open the room 24 hours a day to provide a sanctuary, a place for prayer.
Sitting down in an overstuffed chair, I saw the large blackboards filled with of names and petitions, asking for Divine Intervention for their trials and fears.
One petition written in bold letters with pink chalk pleaded, “Please, Lord, take away my son’s addiction to drugs. Enter his life and ease his burdens.”
Another prayed, “O, God, I come to you to ask for favorable results for my cancer tests. Please let them all report negative results.”
Still another, “Comfort a family who recently loss their child to the bane of heroin. Have mercy on his soul.”
With the death of our young, the sickness of our aged, the unemployment around us, and a community that has been battered, we are still standing. We are still standing because of the faithfulness of our community, our churches, and the resilience of our people.
In this difficult and sad time, our thoughts and prayers are with the Boggs, Fizer, and Carter families, and all others who are seeking God’s grace to answer their prayers.
Pat Haley is a Clinton County Commissioner.