A thought that lasted a lifetime

By Judy Brandon: CNJ religion columnist

Each time I drive down Commerce Street, my thoughts turn to my Marshall Junior High School days. Back then, Johnnie’s store was right on the premises, the funeral home was located across the street and Safeway stood at the end of Mitchell. Even though those relics are long gone, Marshall still reminds me of school experiences that involved much more than academics.

One memory I have of my days at Marshall is “the thought for the day.”

Principal Bill McDaniel’s policy was to give school-wide announcements every day over the intercom. When the last bell rang and students were seated in the classrooms for first period, we would hear a “click” from the intercom. Mr. McDaniel came on: “Good Morning,” and then school announcements were read. At the end of his announcements, came the thought for the day.

Students read the thought for the day.

In April of my eighth-grade year, I was summoned to the office. The secretary asked me if I would read the thought for the day for the next morning’s announcements.
Without hesitation I said, “Yes!” That night I was so nervous. I even planned what I would wear to give the thought for the day. No one would actually see me, but I believed that the reader of the thought for the day should be dressed in Sunday best.

The next morning, I reported to Mr. McDaniel’s office. After the bell rang, he gave the announcements. At the end, he turned to give the thought for the day. For me, it was a defining moment; for just a few short minutes, Mr. McDaniel had the ear of the entire student body and I would part of it. Mr. McDaniel said, “Now our thought for the day will be given by Judy Scott.” With racing heart and shaking hands, I held the piece of paper with my lines.

I am sure that no one else still remembers what the thought for the day was, but I do. It said: “Those who lie down with dogs will rise up with fleas!” Was that penned by Ben Franklin? I can’t remember but I had given the entire student body words of wisdom to think about that day.

As a self-conscious adolescent, I had no clue that old adage was really something profound. The saying just meant that all of us are truly influenced by those with whom we keep company. Yet, looking back over the scope of my lifetime experiences, I have come to understand that is a mighty truth.

I have witnessed and resisted at times the pull and appeal of corruption. I have seen people’s lives ruined over lust and greed. I have watched as families have been torn apart by deceit and scheming. In all instances, people have been pulled into the web of corruption by those bad influences around them.

I don’t think the writer had a religious idea in mind when he wrote those words about dogs and fleas. But in a spiritual sense, that adage can be a warning to believers. We have to have discernment to know how to be in the midst of the world without being of the world.

Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: cbrandon@plateautel.net