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For Whom The School Bells Toll

On Monday last there was a confusing cacophony swirling all around me. Usually, I'm not one to give vent to the noises around me but this was a little different. I like to pick sides but this time I'm not sure who to root for. Perhaps you can understand the confusion I am facing.

It is like being a Gator fan in Bulldog territory.

This uncertain sound has confused the dickens out of me, and it isn't even Christmas time.

Looking out our living room window, I spotted the source of all this commotion. It was a yellow school bus filled with children on their way to their first day of school. As I watched the bus turn left and disappear out of sight, I thought about how the same incident can have completely opposite reactions.

First, there was the loud "hurrahs" of parents all through the community rejoicing in the commencement of school. Either, my hearing is getting better or the sound is getting louder, almost deafening. Up and down our street parents were high-fiving each other and smiling like they won the lottery. Even the lady across the street who has no children was out in her bathrobe joining in the celebration.

Then, second, there was the equally loud sound of groaning children commencing their formal education. After about three months of absolute freedom and fun, it was all behind them now and they were walking to their school classroom to set and set and set for the entire day.

The people I pity the most are the teachers who are the recipients of this horde of students who have not yet finished enjoying the fullness of their summer vacation. It seems that summer concludes rather quicker than the young people desire. Why is it good times go so fast and bad times seemed to drag on and on and on.

I am not sure which side of the fence I'm on with this one. I feel deeply towards these young people who after several months of freedom and absolute cavalier activity are now headed back to classrooms and discipline and cafeteria food. The fact that any kid survives cafeteria cuisine is a tribute to the constitutional strength of their stomach and digestive system.

But then I can understand the cheering on the side of the parents. I remember those days when my wife and I loaded up the children onto the bus for the first day of school. We stood together holding hands watching the bus drive out of sight and then we turned and slowly walked back into the house and sat down for a quiet cup of coffee. Let me underscore that word "quiet."

Don't get me wrong here, I love children, especially my children but I sure do love a quiet cup of coffee.

That seems to be the story of life. What makes one person happy is a burden to somebody else. What one person looks forward to with a great deal of anticipation, somebody else dreads the blasted thing.

This brings me to the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly.

We have a few things in common, but mostly, we like different things.

For example, she loves a fresh broccoli salad (yuck). I am not sure how anybody in his or her right mind could eat a broccoli salad let alone eat it on purpose and enjoy it. I, representing the saner half of our marriage equation, love freshly baked apple fritters.

In 39 years of marital bliss we have never been able bring these two things together. Her love for broccoli is equal only to my loathing of it. And when I loathe something I loath it... you know what I mean?

You are not going to believe this, but my wife turns her nose up at my freshly baked apple fritters. I don't understand it. All I can figure out is all those years of consuming broccoli has in some way destroyed her ability to taste good things. Just smelling broccoli burns my nose so bad that I can't smell anything for three weeks. Imagine what it does to your taste buds.

I have an irrevocable contract with my stomach. I will never put into my stomach anything that does not pass the sniff test. Broccoli doesn't, so I haven't.

After all these years there is no way that my wife and I will ever agree in this area. Like parents and children on the first day of school, we have a different reaction to the same thing.

What has held us together all these years is simply this; she eats the broccoli and I eat the apple fritters. She does not force her broccoli on me, and I do not force my apple fritters on her.

We never encroach on the other's happiness, which has made both of us quite happy.

One of the things that I have learned at a happily married husband is that there is a time and place for everything. There is a time to speak up... but that is rather rare. Knowing when to shut up is a gem of inestimable worth in a marriage relationship.

The Bible says, "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding." (Proverbs 17:28).

It is better to keep quiet and let people guess if you are stupid than to say something and remove all doubt.

[The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.]

 

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