As I traveled around our great county this past week, I noticed some very sad and troubling sights. With each sight, my heart broke and my mind wandered back to a different day – a better day I would say.
I passed by a baseball field on Saturday morning, but there were no dads hitting ground balls to their sons. I drove past Tory Hole Park about 7 one evening, but there were no picnickers, no one walking the trails or sitting by the shore of the Cape Fear. As I crossed two bridges over the beautiful old river, I saw no kayakers, no one paddling a canoe, no fishermen, just an empty river seeming to beckon someone to come, enjoy God’s masterful creation.
Next, I journeyed out to Jones Lake … there was but one car in the parking lot. I couldn’t believe my eyes — no visitors tossing a Frisbee to their dog, no campers sitting by a campfire, no hikers taking the 5-mile challenge, no tourists exploring the wonderful exhibits inside the nature center. Just an empty park full of untapped treasures waiting to welcome her guests when and if they come.
Many sad sights caught my attention this week … our awesome new Brown’s Creek bike trail with no bikers or hikers enjoying the fruit of others’ labor; farmers patiently sitting at the farmers’ market ready to sell their fruits and vegetables, if only more customers would come.
Finally, as I headed home to White Lake, another gut-wrenching sight came into view – an abandoned golf course now overgrown with weeds and debris. How could it be? As I continued the journey around our county, I realized just how blessed we are to have so many natural and manmade resources at our fingertips. Parks, lakes, the river, a beautiful downtown shopping area, ballfields, picnic areas, boating areas, play areas … so much (wouldn’t the big cities love to have all that Bladen County boasts!) we need to stop and take time to smell the roses. We are blessed to live in Bladen County!
A sad reality set in, however, as I passed by a hand-full of bustling internet sweepstakes businesses – all their parking lots were full. Next I sat in a traffic jam as people were lined up trying to get into the ABC store. Finally I waited in line inside the gas station as folks purchased their lottery tickets and beer.
And today, the street corners are full of those who seem content just to “hang-out.” I guess these sights are all just “signs of the times.” What has happened in our community when people would rather gamble their time away instead of enjoying a park? Why is the ABC store doing record business while our golf course couldn’t make it?
I think this speaks to a sad reality that is taking place in our land. My prayer for America and for Bladen County is that we would wake up, return to God and to the wonderful things that made our land so great. So moms and dads, take your kids to the park … go for a hike, a bike ride; go pitch your kids some baseball, toss the Frisbee to your dog; have a picnic, go fishing. Just go – enjoy Bladen County – there’s so much here (special thanks to the town & county officials who have worked so hard to provide us with a great place to call home).
Cameron L. McGill