January-born Reflections

A combination of contributions designed for intellectual satisfaction.


The voices we hear in this issue of the Adventist Review speak of expansive variety: White, Native American, Black, female, male, ancient, contemporary. Why privilege their speech? Ethnicity? Gender? Epoch? Fame? Common theme? Unified perspective on religion, principles of morality or life? Similar genre? All: “No.” Why, then? Because, in common with Adventist Review’s “Beginnings,” they are all January-born.

The combination of their contributions is designed for intellectual satisfaction, including your blessed provocation, as you identify with, are perplexed by, or are even dismayed at one or another of them for thinking and speaking as they do.—Editors.

MEGHAN WAZOUA, twenty-first-century educator. From “Thinking Forward”:

“. . . one word comes to mind, intentional. To decisively purpose your thinking toward a specific action or emotion—an end goal. No resolutions, just honest action: “Walk in wisdom . . . , let your speech always be with grace.”

JOHN ROBINSON JEFFERS, twentieth-century poet, lover of solitude and the past. “Carmel Point”:

The extraordinary patience of things!

This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses—

How beautiful when we first beheld it,

Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;

No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,

Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads—

Now the spoiler has come: does it care?

Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide

That swells and in time will ebb, and all

Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty

Lives in the very grain of the granite,

Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.—As for us:

We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;

We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident

As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

ZORA NEALE HURSTON, author and anthropologist, classmate of Margaret Mead’s. From How It Feels to Be Colored Me:

“ . . . in the main, I feel like a brown bag of miscellany propped against a wall. Against a wall in company with other bags, white, red and yellow. Pour out the contents, and there is discovered a jumble of small things priceless and worthless. A first-water diamond, an empty spool, bits of broken glass, . . . old shoes saved for a road that never was and never will be, a nail bent under the weight of things too heavy for any nail, a dried flower or two still a little fragrant. In your hand is the brown bag. On the ground before you is the jumble it held—so much like the jumble in the bags, could they be emptied, that all might be dumped in a single heap and the bags refilled without altering the content of any greatly.  A bit of colored glass more or less would not matter. Perhaps that is how the Great Stuffer of Bags filled them in the first place—who knows?”

EDGAR ALLAN POE lived a uniquely melodramatic life; poet and compelling literary critic. From “William Wilson. A Tale”:

“Men usually grow base by degrees.”

JOHN WINTHROP, seventeenth-century Puritan preacher and governor.From “A Model of Christian Charity,” sermon preached while at sea:

“God Almighty in His most holy and wise providence hath so disposed of the condition of mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some poor, some high and eminent in power and dignity; others mean and in subjection.”

JEANNETTE PICCARD, balloonist, scientist, Episcopal priest. From Claudia M. Oakes, United States Women in Aviation: 1930-1939:

“If we do not add something . . .  by our trip to the stratosphere this summer, we had better not go. We had better stay on the ground, be hewers of wood and drawers of water.”

COURTNEY RAY, clergywoman, clinical psychologist. From “Decisions”:

“It’s fine to walk away from things you don’t really want. Many positions, opportunities, and paths that present themselves may sound alluring on paper, or have status/cachet attached, or are things that other people think you should accept, yet they aren’t aligned with your own goals or values. Be clear about where you want to go and what’s most important among your priorities. Protect your peace. Run your own race.”

JUDITH FISHER, psychologist. From “A Thought to Share”:

“Free will gives humans access to limitless possibilities, a bridge to achieving the uncommon, connecting the human mind to the mind of the divine, and accessing the power of omniscient God. Meticulous nurturing of this multidimensional gift empowers us to move mountains in our lives, no matter their size, opening clear pathways to living optimally, while engaging in a most intimate relationship with the supreme being of the universe. Through this amazing gift in Christ, you can truly do ALL things.”

JOHN G. NEIHARDT, reproducing, as best he can, the words, thoughts, and experience of Native American spiritual leader Black Elk. From Black Elk Speaks:

“When the ceremony was over, everybody felt a great deal better, for it had been a day of fun. They were better able now to see the greenness of the world; the wideness of the sacred day, the colors of the earth, and to set these in their minds.”

CARL AUGUST SANDBURG, journalist, poet, Chicagoan who loved Chicago. “Fog”:

The fog comes

on little cat feet.

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.

ANONYMOUS, communications director. From “Ordinary Things”:

“I turned 40 in January of 2021. At the time, I was overwhelmed with getting older, . . . and just overall winter blues. My 9-year-old . . . said, “Mom, you should write a book called ‘The Miserable Life of Ordinary Things.’ ” She shook her head and walked away. I realized, after laughing out loud, how ridiculous I must sound to her. I had so many blessings, and I wasn’t being thankful for any of them. This January my book will be called “The Blessed Life of Ordinary Things.”