Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah…
Jordan’s river is chilly and cold, hallelujah
Chills the body but not the soul, hallelujah…
The river is deep and the river is wide, hallelujah
Milk and honey on the other side, hallelujah…
–lyrics from Michael Row the Boat Ashore
Originally a negro spiritual, the uplifting song was popularized in the early 60’s by groups such as The Highwaymen, Peter Paul & Mary, and Johnny Rivers. Former slaves sung this song on their way to freedom. Over the years, the lyrics changed and were used in different venues, such as the civil rights movement. The River Jordan, where Jesus was baptized, is a metaphor for deliverance and salvation, a trip to the promised land, and the journey to heaven, like John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, the allegory of the soul.
Life is not a dream (sha-boom sha-boom). It’s not always sunshine lollipops and…rainbows every time you are near the one you love. But life has value, and if you are on the right path, you will find meaning and true peace.
Hardships and trials happen for a reason. For the Christian, the journey across the Jordan leads to hope, to a land of milk and honey.
In the book of Peter, the apostle writes to encourage God’s people during a time when Christians are being fed to lions for sport, made human torches, and generally treated horribly. It was about the time when Rome burned while Nero fiddled. Peter passed on God’s message to look at the big picture, the Kingdom of God, and not get caught up in the things of this world.
About two years ago, after having lived in a house for about 20 years, I lost my job and then my house. I barely had one penny to rub against the other. I got in with some homeless people I met at the public library in Levittown, PA. They told me about community meals and a free bus to get there. I didn’t have my car. I was running low on food, and didn’t have enough food from a local food bank to sustain me. The Lord provided.
In time, I lost my house. The day after I had to be out of the house, I got temporary housing with a family. But soon I was living in my car with a friend.
I now have a roof over my head.
Through this experience, I learned what was really important in life. After awhile, things I took for granted were gone. Having lost my job, my house, my dog and having suffered other problems, I was a wreck!
People and circumstances came that helped me to get better mentally and spiritually. I grew closer to God and continue to grow, although like characters in The Pilgrim’s Progress, I sometimes lose my way.
The Bucks County establishment, which is hung up on personal peace (an artificial peace) and prosperity can learn from such an experience. It’s been said that hobophobia, the irrational fear and disdain of the homeless, can be cured by taking a dose of homelessness, experiencing what homeless people go through. Maybe this way people will learn to do unto others as they would have them do unto them.
The homeless themselves should realize that their brothers and sisters are going through the same thing they are, like the characters in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and should help and encourage one another. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grapes_of_Wrath
Instead, some of the homeless and needy in lower Bucks County act like the rabid, jealous, greedy characters in Frank Norris’ McTeague. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McTeague
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” -James 4: 1-3