This Year in St. Louis

With apologies to Charles Dickens and everyone else I quote in this post.

I tend to think in quotes. Movies quotes, book quotes, TV quotes…it doesn’t matter. My brain seems to search for some quote to fit any situation. It should come as no surprise, then, that this 250th birthday year in St. Louis can be described by me through a variety of quotes.

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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. A Tale of Two Cities

This is the overarching theme for this year in St. Louis. It should have been the best of times, celebrating St. Louis’ 250th birthday, cheering the Blues and Cardinals in their respective playoffs, so many festivals and events and fun things to look forward to.

But life sometimes has other plans. There has been so much violence and unrest in the city (and surrounding area this year).

I think of my beautiful city in flames, Lennier. The streets where I walked, the temples, the great crystal spires .. that sighed music whenever the wind touched them. I think of it, and I cry, Lennier. Babylon 5

The city of St. Louis proper didn’t burn this year. But there were flames in surrounding communities, and it breaks my heart to remember those images. They are a part of our city’s story and history now though, and it’s impossible to forget them.

If there’s one thing you learn in my job, it’s that nothing is certain. Nothing that seems very bad, and nothing that seems very good. Nothing is certain. Nothing. E.R.

Along with the general unrest, we spent a lot of time this year wondering what would happen. There were times when we assumed it would be the worst, but then again, as this quote so aptly says, nothing is certain…not the good or the bad, and we certainly saw both, often when we least expected them.

Although I have long loved the words and music of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” I have never before understand Longfellow’s Christmas poem (written during the Civil War), better than I do this year:

And in despair, I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said
“For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!”

Hate has been strong here, and at times it seemed as though there would never be peace.

But Longfellow’s poem has a concluding verse, and he, as we all should, remembered that God is in control, and never dead or asleep, no matter what is going on, wether it be war or protests or violence of any kind:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!”

There have been many profound quotes that apply to this year, but none more so than the Word of God:

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”My heart says to you,
“Your face, LORD, do I seek.”

Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.

Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD! Psalm 27

And so this is where I end the year. No matter what happens, or where it happens, good or bad, I know I have, and will, seen the goodness of the Lord, here, and in eternity.

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