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The best of times, the worst of times...

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.

~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

On this day for as long as I can remember, my family has remembered Bastille Day, July 14, 1789, the day Paris revolutionaries stormed and dismantled the Bastille, the royal fortress and prison, launching the French Revolution which included decades of political turmoil and terror including the execution of the king and queen and tens of thousands of other people.

I am not sure why we celebrated it, but my mother had majored in French and taught it, and we all learned the French National Anthem, singing it unwittingly all the way through on Bastille Day.

Allons enfants de la patrie, Le jour de gloire arrive!

(Onwards children of the fatherland,

The day of glory has arrived!)

Charles Dickens' well known book A Tale of Two Cities, written in 1859, tells the story of the French Revolution set in Paris and London, intertwining the political story and the human story , the gruesome conditions and the Reign of Terror. The lines above are some of the most famous opening lines in all of literature, and the novel is said to be one of the best selling novels of all time.

Today as I reflect on this memory, I find Dickens' introductory words daunting. "Indeed the period was so far like the present period," makes me tremble. Headlines in today's paper include a "Mother puts fentanyl in baby's bottle so they can both sleep" and "Mass murders in US reach an all time high," and "We're at war right here at home." These are the best of times and the worst of times.

And yet we read in the psalms appointed for today, "Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you; I have said to the Lord, "You are my Lord, my good above all other," and "But at my vindication, I shall see your face; when I awake, I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness." I belong to a post pandemic community of believers who read, mark and inwardly digest words that were written around the 5th century BC. We met on zoom and continue nurturing each other and our beloved community on zoom The words of scripture comfort us and encourage us, reminding us of the best of times that can come from the worst of times...otherwise known as Grace.

May we all see the Grace of God this day and be reminded of the best of times.

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