In this second year of The Twilight Zone, we come to a week with today being April Fools’ Day, Good Friday tomorrow and Easter on Sunday. 

Easter signifies a renewal of the spirit and the mind.   

In Stillwater the earth has announced another spring – a renewal of life. The redbud trees, the tulips and the grape hyacinths have arrived just as they do every year in the spring. 

Don’t you now find it difficult to remember that horrible February weather? It could not have really happened. 

From a column published in the March 3, 2008 East Bay Times, Dr. Richard Southern, pastor of Tri-valley Unity Church in Dublin, California, (a church no longer in existence) commented, “The Easter message is a personal one, it’s about overcoming seemingly impossible challenges in life. It’s about rising from the depths of despair to the promise of a new day. It’s about recovering our sense of wholeness and our sacred worth at any given moment.”  

After having been in this pandemic for over a year now, those words are so fitting. COVID-19 has been Stillwater’s challenge to meet and overcome just as it has been a personal challenge for each of us. We have gone from despair, harsh words and loss to a feeling that we will make it through this crisis. 

A personal example is a phone conversation I had with Debbie House who owns the Greenery, a hair salon. Since I have had both vaccinations, I feel safer now to go to more businesses and restaurants. I called to make an appointment with Debbie. She seemed happy to hear from me. I commented, “Well, you know it has been over a year.”  

She responded, “It has been hard staying open. I’m not ready to close. Now, my clients are returning!”  She was excited. I will be excited also when I have my appointment and get rid of my gray hair.  

In this area of downtown – the 100 Block of West 7th -- where I write my columns in my husband’s office, the Zannotti’s new outside dining area is busy. It will not be long before District Bicycle has riders gathering for group biking. I see Joe and Brad from Merrifield’s delivering furniture and supplies. As I write the column, Stillwater residents are gathering at the Community Center for the meeting about Sixth. Aspen is even busy on Sunday mornings again. 

A few months ago, I could occasionally to the office and have the entire block to myself—no other cars anywhere on the block.

There is a sense of renewal of life in Stillwater. 

The Legislature is still in session and that continues to be a frightening thought considering some of the bad bills that have a chance of passage. 

There are good signs there also. Some of the bad ones are having trouble including the one where it would be legal for a driver to run into a protestor, if the driver feels threatened.

Today, HB 2078 passed the Senate and Gov. Stitt signed it. This is the law that changes the school funding formula.  Oklahoma State Superintendent of Education Joy Hofmeister opposed the bill sayng it would especially hurt rural districts due to yearly fluctuating enrollment. 

The good sign about this bad bill being passed is that many Republicans voted against it, including Stillwater’s Sen. Dugger. This is a sign that more Republicans are thinking about the effects these bills will have on public education. 

Rep. John Talley sponsored House Resolution 1002 in celebration of public lands.  In his Tuesday News Press column, he told about the importance of public lands to our state and how much he has enjoyed being able to use public lands for his work and for hunting. Rep. Trish Ranson joined him in sponsoring the resolution. The Nature Conservancy also promoted it. 

What is ironic about Talley’s resolution is that eleven Republican House members from rural areas voted against it. In the March 28 Tulsa World, Randy Krehbiel wrote in his political happenings column about Talley’s resolution due to the negative votes which Krehbiel described as “unheard of” for a resolution.  My hunch is these rural legislators do not want to share their area land with the public. They want to keep all of it for the farmers and ranchers. Also, the value of that land might increase if the state became a bidder for some of it.

Public lands, both federal and state, benefit all Oklahoma citizens because they provide jobs and recreation according to Talley.

On the national level in the House, Rules Committee Chair James McGovern is working with Oklahoma’s Tom Cole, the Committee’s Ranking Member, to reform the War Powers Resolution for the 21st Century. They were interviewed together this week on a National Public Radio news program. This is a good sign when House members from different parties are actually working together with a stated goal.

Speaking of overcoming challenges, Bill Cooper wrote recently with an idea for a column. He said, “My parents and grandparents lived through the Great Depression (1930-1941). Its impact left a permanent impact on their thinking and priorities. What impact of COVID do you think will shape the current population after the pandemic? For good or for bad?”

This is an excellent topic – I would love to hear thoughts about the permanent, if any, impact on your lives due to COVID.    

Rod Serling had so many fascinating quotes – he was ahead of his time. The best one for The Twilight Zone is still: “Imagination…its limits are only those of the mind itself.” 

So as we approach Easter, a time for renewal and rebirth, let us think of this as a time for a NEW YEAR. Serling would agree that a new year does not always have to be on January One. 

Any time can be the time for renewal of the mind and spirit and for overcoming challenges.

To celebrate our NEW YEAR as we meet the challenges of the pandemic, we can adopt Peggy Lee’s New Year song. 

Look up Peggy Lee’s New Year Song on YouTube. Below are the words and you can sing along with Peggy. This is a beautiful song. You will want to listen to it more than once or twice. 

Such beautiful words and thoughts for this New Year.

My dear acquaintance, it’s so good to know you

For strength of your hand

That is loving and giving.

And a happy new year

With love overflowing

With joy in our hearts

For the blessed new year.

Raise your glass and we’ll have a cheer

For us all who are gathered here

And a happy new year to all that is living 

To all that is gentle, kind, and forgiving

Raise your glass and we’ll have a cheer

My dear acquaintance, a happy new year.

 All of those who are hither

With love in our hearts

We grow fonder and fonder

Hail to those who we hold so dear

And hail to those who are gathered

Here 

 And a happy new year to all that is living

To all that is gentle, young, and forgiving

Raise your glass and we’ll have a cheer

My dear acquaintance, a happy new year.

May you have a wonderful Easter in this NEW YEAR. 

 

Julie Couch is a longtime Stillwater resident. 

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