The Greatest of Our Treasures

By Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust on Their Wings,” and two works of non-fiction, “Learning as I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va. See JeffMinick.com to follow his blog.
November 24, 2021 Updated: November 24, 2021

Tough times demand tough people.

This winter promises to bring some hard times to most Americans, and we need to set our hearts and souls like flint against what’s coming down the pike. An inflationary spike in fuel and food costs, the slowdown in our nationwide supply chain, the ongoing fights over Wuhan flu mandates, and the damage they’re doing to the economy: These troubles and more are already knocking on the door.

They bring to mind that old song by Stephen Foster, “Hard Times,” which ends with these wistful words:

“’Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times come again no more
Many days you have lingered
Around my cabin door
Oh hard times come again no more”

We all know what we must do in this coming fight. We cut back on consumption, look for bargains, avoid debt—time to put away those credit cards—and seek ways to simplify our lives.

But hard times also provide us with the opportunity to consider what’s most important to us, where our real treasures lie.

And most often those treasures aren’t material riches like new cars, designer clothing, or even a grand house. Food, shelter, and money are important, of course, and indispensable for survival, but most often when we weigh what’s most valuable in our lives, what’s really meaningful, what truly counts, the scales tip heavily in favor of family and friends.

When life womps us upside the head, as it sometimes does, and we find ourselves in dire straits, we need these folks like a man in a desert needs water. When catastrophe strikes, we can find respite and rescue in the arms of a parent, a spouse, a sibling, or a friend. When these loyal souls stand beside us, we realize we’re no longer alone. They are the gold doubloons in our life, not the money deposited in our bank accounts or the investments we’ve made. They’re the ones who don’t abandon us in a time of crisis, our winter soldiers who stick around when we’ve encountered disaster and everything seems dark and hopeless.

Five years ago, a man I knew had come to a major crossroads in his life. He had made some mistakes, and it wasn’t pretty. Of his acquaintances and friends, four stuck with him, listened to him, and offered counsel. They didn’t excuse his wrongdoing, but they kept him upright, refused to let him sink into destructive self-pity, and helped him find his way again.

We are blessed when such people are a part of us, cavalry comes to the rescue. And we can offer them the same reinforcement and help: a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear, words of advice to strengthen and encourage them in their own time of disaster.

No matter what adversity this winter brings, public or personal, let’s remember we don’t need to endure misfortune by ourselves. We can circle the wagons with relatives and friends, draw on our mutual strengths and affection, and protect and defend one another.

In their song 1970 song “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the folk duo Simon and Garfunkel gave us these words:

“I’ll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down”

Sometimes, we need those bridges. Sometimes, we can be those bridges.

Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust on Their Wings,” and two works of non-fiction, “Learning as I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va. See JeffMinick.com to follow his blog.