As you and I go through life we meet all sorts of folks — family members when we get old enough to know who they are, childhood friends, school mates, co-workers, new family members such as a mate or children or in-laws, folks who become good and dear friends and a whole passel of others along the way.
In addition to all those — and others — there is also a large group known as “they.” You know who I’m talking about. “They” are the folks we often quote, as in “they say” this or “they say” that.
“They” say we’re going to get some rain or “they” say it’s going to be hot as blue blazes (whatever a blue blaze is) or “they” say something else. I’m not knocking how we talk; most of us have at one time or another have quoted “they,” whoever “they” are.
Sometimes “they” are who we want them to be. Sometimes “they” may be just one person, if it suits our purposes. That’s a bit like the word of advice given by one of my seminary professors when he told us that one day we might show up for Sunday morning worship and be greeted in the parking lot by an individual who might say, “Pastor, a bunch of us have been talking and we think it’s time for you to leave.”
“Typically,” my mentor said, “that means ‘me and one of my buddies’ don’t want you here anymore.”
Sometimes, however, “they” is just how we pass along general information without saying something like, “Through the years, as you know, tradition, common sense and experience have all taught us that often there are irrefutable facts and/or a high probability that this or that is likely yak yak blah blah blah ... ”
Which would you rather your ears hear?
Among the “they” sayings I have thought of recently are two: “they” say “when it thunders in the winter that means within 10 days, we’re going to have snow,” and “they” say, “March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion,” or “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”
That means (obviously) when the weather for our third month begins in a gentle way then it won’t be that way at the end of the month or vice-versa. I’m not sure what “they” say when it’s a mixed bag.
We didn’t have all that rough of a winter — no snow in March like 1960, when I was a young lad and it snowed every Wednesday for three weeks. Maybe that’s a good thing. The wood supply we had on hand was, for the most part, in short supply and sometimes was almost week to week, despite my best efforts to keep Shirley’s chainsaw and wood splitter operating well. And right now, I can’t remember how March began but it’s going out a bit lion-like, what with cool temps at night and mucho wind, but there’s still some lamb with the nice daytime temps.
So, while the lion and lamb part “they” speak of is still out with the jury, one thing “they” say has come true at our little spread lately.
“They” say that when you go outside to rake and burn leaves that if the air is completely still and calm, then as soon as you lay the rake aside and pick up a match and toss it into the pile of leaves, then the winds will begin to blow — especially in the direction you don’t want them to blow.
On that issue, count me as part of “they.”
Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.
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