Deadly Paris attacks remind us how life is just a blink of an eye

Published 6:00 am Sunday, November 22, 2015

By Steve Stricker

Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, not a breeze was stirring as the sun peeked over the trees in my backyard, and with the temperature hovering around 50 degrees, my sweatshirt jacket was comfortable and the cold patio concrete felt good on my bare feet.

After three days and 3 inches of much-needed rain, the sun felt good. The leaves of my maple trees were wearing their fall colors as white fluffy clouds floated in the gorgeous blue sky. The air was fresh and fragrant with a hint of winter to come and blended splendidly with the aroma of my dark-roasted coffee.

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Halloween (having its origins in religion) was on a Saturday and the moon looms large at this time of year because of autumnal equinox … or something. The first day of November is called All Hallows Day, a time to remember those who died the previous year and would finally find peace; we Catholics celebrate the day as All Saints Day. The second day of November, All Soul’s Day, commemorates the faithful departed believed to be in purgatory.

As a slight breeze ruffled the leaves, I smiled, thinking about my son Scott whose birthday was Nov. 17 — I love you and happy birthday, Scott!

Mass had been canceled, so with a “day off,” I planned to work on my 1971 MGB/GT, but first said the Rosary on the beautiful “Rome Rosary” my son Stephen brought to me from the Vatican gift shop this past summer.

With Thanksgiving approaching and Christmas a jingle away, I sipped my coffee, soaked in the beautiful morning, and contemplated how humbly thankful I was to God for my faith, health, home, living in the USA, Oxford, Ole Miss, NMRC residents and staff (none better), Father Joe Tonos and St John’s Catholic Church, the Oxford EAGLE, Thacker Mountain Radio, Dr. Mona Castle, freedom/freedom to worship, my mom and dad, grandparents, sons Stephen, Scott, Shane and their mom, granddogs, sisters Mary Ann, Pat and Paula, previous relationships, good neighbors, deer and neighbor dog friends, so many of you who enrich my life, and with Veterans Day on the 11th for all veterans, living and deceased, and for bringing me home safely from Vietnam.

My original column continued at this point with me blabbering about working on my Volvo and MG all summer and on this “day off” tearing up new expensive MG carburetor parts — aagh!

Then on Friday, Nov. 13, terrorists struck peaceful, lovely Paris, France, murdering 129 innocent victims in cold blood, and relevant only was Paris, our world in uncertain mayhem and caring for each other.

Not that I’m morbid, but I think about death a lot. So, I asked myself — if I had been in that Paris concert hall, first of all, I hope I would have said the hell with it and went after the gunmen; secondly, would I have been ready to meet our Lord?

On Sunday evening the 15th around dusk, I watched my mother deer and one of her three wee one’s for 20 minutes feeding in my backyard. When I moved into my new house in 2000, I decided to expand a thin strip of woods behind me and between other houses and let it grow as it willed — my “wild zone,” and tall pines and grass have flourished, offering protection for my wild critters and buffering me somewhat from other humans.

When it got dark and mother deer moved on, I sat on my patio sipping bourbon (thanks, Stephen) in the chilly, still air, watching the same crescent moon that perhaps those in Paris had seen a few hours earlier, thankful for the peace, and decided to rewrite my original column.

Life is an eye-blink, as you well know. God allows each of us free choice to use our allotted time on earth as we wish but these free choices can either earn us a place for eternity in magnificent peace with Him in heaven, or eternal torment — it’s our choice.

Our world is changing and the phrase, “Are you ready,” before our “Hotty Toddy” has taken on new meaning for me.

My prayer and hope is that I (we) can do something each day to care about and bring a wee bit of peace to others.

Happy Thanksgiving; God Bless the USA; Vive La France; Peace Out; and because life goes on, as it should: GO REBELS — BEAT STATE!!

Steve Stricker received his Ph.D. in counselor education from the University of Mississippi. He can be reached at