Columbia County's observance on Thursday morning of the National Day of Prayer was wonderful. Wish you'd been there. And you, and you, and you.
It was a shame such a great event was so sparsely attended, though it's understandable how tough it is to get people together on any given weekday morning.
The relative handful - probably about 50 - who did attend were treated to some great, uplifting music and heartfelt prayers for our community. With things as they are these days, especially in south Georgia, the prayer that took the sharpest focus was that of the Rev. Cindy Taylor of Church of the Holy Comforter: For rain.
The message was both literal and metaphorical; rain to end the drought and help fight the south Georgia wildfire, and holy rain to end our spiritual drought.
Literal rain certainly is an immediate need. And speaking of needs, when the call went out for donations to help the firefighters battling the blaze near Waycross, the community really responded.
The quest for supplies started as a simple office fund-raiser at the John Deere plants, reacting to a list of needs that had been sent out by Columbia County Emergency Services Division Director Pam Tucker. Soon, the collection went county-wide, with drop-off sites also set up at all Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue stations and here at our office.
Because The News-Times also is a collection site for Hope Soap, we already had a supply of some of the items the firefighters were requesting - especially travel-size toiletries. With permission from the folks who run Hope Soap, we sorted out some of those items to send south.
Martinez firefighters were to take the collected items down this weekend. But what the firefighters in south Georgia really need is rain.
So keep praying.
Meanwhile, I'll try to help. Tucker reminds me that the names for storms in the upcoming hurricane season have been released, and Hurricane Barry is among those waiting for use.
I'll see if I can whip up a little Category 1 in the Atlantic and dump some rain on Waycross. Maybe I can get some help from my cousins, the Diblings of Winfield: Both their names - Erin and Dean - are on the 2007 storm list, too.
If any candidates have a prayer of winning the Columbia County vote in the upcoming elections, they'll need to take advantage of the opportunity to speak to voters Thursday at the Grovetown "stump meeting."
I guess it says something about our changing times that the most frequent question I've received about the event has nothing to do with the 13 candidates who have been invited (10 for the 10th District congressional race, three for the 24th District state Senate race).
The question? "What is a 'stump meeting'?"
One person thought the candidates would be brought in and "stumped" by the audience with tough questions. Sounds like a great idea, but that's not what the term means.
The phrase originated in Colonial America when politicians would visit a community and literally stand on a stump to give a speech. Someone suggested we bring in an actual stump for Thursday's Liberty Park meeting, but I don't think that'll be necessary.
Incidentally, word-detective.com describes a shared origin for "stumped' and "stump meeting." Just as an elusive answer can leave one stumped, land-clearing efforts were said to be "stumped" because of the difficulty in removing tree stumps.
The same hard-to-remove stumps then were used as impromptu stages by traveling politicians - who have proven equally hard to get rid of.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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