It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens

By Dr. Jim Ferguson

My expertise is not fixing things around the house. In fact, Becky is our Handy Ma’am. One of my many aphorisms is, “You will never be good at something you don’t enjoy.” I could never be an accountant. I do appreciate fixing something that is broken, but accomplishing the repair affords me more relief than joy. Actually, I find more joy in having the right gizmo for the job, because any task becomes torture without the right tool.

Finding the right word is like having the perfect tool for the job on your “Honey-do” list. As a writer I’m always looking for the perfect word or the best way to say something or convey my meaning. There are more words in the English language than in any other, perhaps because we are rich with diverse cultures. Having lots of words is like having lots of tools. I once wrote an essay entitled Mot Juste, a French term we now have to define the perfect word for describing something or articulating a thought.

A reader challenged me recently with a word in his lament, defined as a “passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” His lament was conveyed with the perfect word transmogrify. The word means huge and vile, and he was referring to the changes in our country with the policies of iPOTUS’ handlers, leftists and progressive-socialist-Democrats who are orchestrating irreparable damage to America.

I’m a member of two small Christian discussion groups. Small groups are important because sociological studies have shown that discussion is stifled in groups of more than eight to ten. The Church began with small groups of believers before it became institutionalized and bureaucratized. In one group we are reading “The Question That Never Goes Away” by the Christian apologist Philip Yancey. The book deals with tragedies like the Sandy Hook murders of children and the theodicy question defined as divine justice.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for belief in God is why an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God allows suffering? The classic explanations are there is no God, there is a comic war between good and evil, we are all guilty and get what we deserve, suffering produces perseverance which builds character and leads to hope, and lastly, justice will be done in the next life. Yancey is a beautiful writer and like many past luminaries recognizes the necessity of suffering if we are to have free will in this imperfect world. And he concludes with hope. I have read a dozen books by Yancey and can recommend this one which is a sequel to “Where Is God When It Hurts?”

In one of my groups, we talked about what we can do about all the troubles in the world. To name just a few, there is a manufactured crisis on our southern border, China is preparing to move on Taiwan, the Russians have nixed a conference with iPOTUS and are moving on Ukraine, instead of the illusion of “white supremacy” we actually are suffering from “woke supremacy,” mayhem is present in Democrat run cities, the pandemic of fear is peddled by the media for ratings and ruinous debt is just around the corner.

You can easily feel overwhelmed by world problems and tragedies described in Yancey’s book. So, I asked the group, “What is working?” This was not a rhetorical question, but one I often ask myself. In this troubled world, what is functioning well? There was reflective silence in the group and then a friend noted increased numbers of young people returning to church services. I’ve noticed the same in the non-denominational church I’ve been attending. Another noted her own blessings which history teaches are unparalleled in America despite what CNN, MSNBC and the NY Times says. Becky was thankful President Trump organized and pushed Operation Warp Speed which developed Covid vaccines for us. I said I was thankful to live in Knoxville despite our recent tragedies. I’ve travelled the world and all over this country and would not live anywhere but K-Town.

I have always been intrigued that people seem to consider the negative more so than the positive. We tend to take for granted things that are working, at least until they quit working. For example, you take your health for granted until you get the flu. You feel awful with the flu, but so appreciate feeling good again – at least for a while.

I don’t think I ever take spring for granted. I was sick of winter by February. I yearn for Spring, and Springtime is working! Perhaps I occasionally take for granted the 23-degree tilt in the Earth’s axis. This tilt gives us seasons, as long as the sun steadily fuses hydrogen, producing light and warmth for the “third rock from the sun.” I am a science guy – more than Bill Nye – and a fiction writer as well. I appreciate physics. But as a writer I wonder what it would be like to physically experience the perspective of another or see-through different eyes, even the compound eyes of one of my science fiction novel’s characters.

I love the green of spring with new leaves sporting April’s chartreuse palate rather than the deep green of summer. So, instead of listening to the latest reports of mayhem or writing more words, I’m going outside to appreciate what’s working in God’s creation. And I can’t equal Robert Frost’s observations and poetic reflections on spring.

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.