Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dying town, living people

Last Saturday I rode through a dying town.  This old mill town, where I was born, was home to a booming textile company 50 years ago.  Probably dozens of my relatives worked there, including my dad.  Now a ride through town reveals architectural relics of the company that used to employ 10.000 people.  Someone has bought the real estate, and they are selling off the old lumber inside the mills.  Apparently after they salvage the guts of a building, they demolish it.  There are no cars parked there, no shift changes slowing traffic.

Downtown about half the storefronts are empty.  New car lots are now vacant lots.  Even the streets are virtually empty.  A few cars pass by, but there is probably never a rush hour. 

I also noticed something else about the town.  Everyone seems friendly.  In the hospital where I visited a relative, most people passing in the hallway gives a sincere greeting.  A one-legged man in a wheelchair caught the elevator with us.  After saying hello, he joked, "I was looking for someone to play double-dutch with me.  I can even jump on one leg!" 

Here's a man in a dying town, with only one leg, and he cheerfully cracks jokes about his disability.  For him life is good.  He has chosen to see it that way.

I wonder how many towns will become like this one.  The signs in the economy are not good.  The experts try to tell us that the recession is over.  The problem is that no one can tell it.  The media is full of less-than-cheerful news. 

The good news is that we don't have to let life become miserable just because the economy is bad.  As we learn to cope with the new realities, we can re-evaluate what really matters to us.  We can share the good news that God has something better for us than material prosperity.  Our souls can prosper, even in the worst of economic depressions.  Even if we only have one leg, we can jump rope!

Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  I'm glad of that!