‘Wise Shall Be The Bearers Of Light’

The Texas Gal and I are taking some time for ourselves this week; the past few weeks have been busier than normal. Her garden did very well this year, and we’ve been busy picking and canning the result (numerous jars of green beans, of chili base, of stewed tomatoes in both Italian and Mexican seasonings, of pickle relish, of pickles both sweet and dill and of carrots). We also spent time last week preparing for our Second Annual End of Summer Picnic, which came off Sunday with a fine afternoon for all involved and without a raindrop for anyone.

But the busyness of the past few weeks has left us a little drained, so we’re going to ease back on the throttle a little bit this week as she takes a few days off from work. There are plenty of tomatoes ripening in paper bags and yet on the vine; we’ll need to do something with them, but otherwise, we’ll sleep late, relax, maybe take a drive to an antique shop or two and maybe a dinner out.

Included in that is my writing briefer posts here than has been my custom over the years. I know that a few recent posts have been slender, but that reflected how busy things have been. We’ll let this week’s pickings be a little slight, too, as we slide through what is – culturally, at least – the last week of summer. My regular verbosity will return – as inspiration warrants – in about a week.

This morning, I’m pondering the last days of August 1983, the time when I was settling into my new surroundings in Columbia, Missouri, and preparing for a two-year stint in graduate school. I recall the night before fall semester began, sometime during the last days of August. I was anxious about how things would go in my classes and in my part-time work as an assistant editor at the Columbia Missourian (and in my social life, too, as I was living alone again). The University of Missouri’s School of Journalism has a long and bright history, and I wondered if I could measure up. So the evening before classes began, I drove into downtown Columbia and wandered around the portion of the campus near the journalism school and the Francis Quadrangle.

Along the way, I passed under the arch that connects Walter Williams Hall to Neff Hall and saw the inscription above the arch: “Wise Shall Be The Bearers Of Light”.

Wise? I thought. Wise? Me?

Still shaking my head at the thought of my being the holder of wisdom in any way, I got into my car and drove back home. Whatever happened in the next two years was going to happen, and I would have a lot of smart people around me. Maybe some of them would have some wisdom to share with me, and – long shot that it was – maybe some of the things I would share would come off to them as wise.

I imagine the radio was on in the car as I drove home that evening pondering wisdom. I have no idea what I heard, but I’m certain it wasn’t “Wise Man’s Blues” by Bobby “Blue” Bland, a tune recorded in Memphis in 1952.


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