N. LITTLE ROCK, AR (BNC) ─ On Sunday gospel preacher Oran Burt sent out the following to the congregation on Somers Avenue, which he has served for 50 years.
“I once was young but now I’m old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken” Proverbs 37:25.
I was young, 24, when I moved here to work with this congregation. Now, I am old, 74, as I announce my retirement at the end of this month, November, 2023.
God has opened a door of opportunity for us in Russellville, AR. An elder and his wife are building a new house and it will be finished soon. We have purchased their current house.
This little place is on two acres, up on the back side of Crow Mountain. It is outside the city limits, but is in a nice neighborhood yet with country living. It is a smaller house than we have now, but will be fine for us. You may recall seeing that big red and white sign with a Razorback Hog mounted on the cliff just outside Atkins (near Pottsville & Russellville on I-40). That rocky cliff is part of Crow Mountain, the south side ridge of it. Our place will be behind that on the other side, but still up on the mountain.
There in Pope County, like surrounding counties there are congregations of the church of Christ just about every seven miles or so.
We plan to move there at the end of this month. There is so much to do in order to pull up all the roots we have put down here over the past 50 years. And, this short note cannot possibly unpack all the emotions, experiences, and challenges that make up the very fabric of our lives. We raised our children and grandchildren here. I believe this poem by James Russell Lowell captures much of what I feel right now.
Read it slowly as it speaks from my heart to yours:
“FULL MANY NOBLE FRIENDS”
Full many noble friends my soul hath known,
Women and men, who in my memory
Have sown such beauty as can never die;
And many times, when I seem all alone,
Within my heart, I call up one by one
The joys I shared with them, the unlaced hours
Of laughing thoughts, that came and went like flowers,
Or higher argument, Apollo’s own;
Those listening eyes that gave nobility
To humblest verses writ and read for love,
Those burning words of high democracy,
Those doubts that through the vague abyss would rove
And lean o’er chasms that took away the breath─
When I forget them, may it be in death!