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  • Reverend James Squire

No Coincidences from Wednesday Evening To Thanksgiving Morning

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

On the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, we forgot the sage for the parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme combination which are needed for the filling. All the stores were now out of it. I asked, “Do we really need it?” The response was, “Yes”. Our oldest son had some at his home, and we were saved. I asked why is that sage herb so important? No one knew the answer so I checked because every time that I hear Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “Scarborough Fair”, that refers to those four herbs, I am immediately transported back in time to a wonderful summer before Vicki and I were married.

She lived in Raleigh, and I was at Duke Medical Center in Durham taking a three months program in counseling before returning for my final year at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. When I was not on call at the hospital, I was in Raleigh with Vicki.

That was the summer that “Scarborough Fair” became so popular with those words, “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme”. It is actually a new version of an old song, a ballad composed in 1620 meant to be a secret to “my true love of mine”. There was a Scarborough Fair in England where people brought their herbs and vegetables to sell. Chefs will tell you that the four herbs mentioned in the song are a great combination of nutritional foods. Parsley at the time the song was originally written was symbolic of comfort, sage of strength, rosemary of love, and thyme of courage.

That summer, although it was a rigorous program at Duke, was the time that forged our relationship in the “smithy of our souls” (James Joyce) as we were married the following December. Music does that to us. We hear a song or an expression and we are transported quickly to good and bad times. I wouldn’t have remembered that without the “missing sage”.

I didn’t even know what to call the phenomenon of being transported in such a wonderful way by just hearing the names of four herbs or words from another. What a coincidence that produced great feelings.

I awoke on Thanksgiving morning to see a Thanksgiving greeting from a good friend, Richardson Merriman. Attached to his email was a video called “No Coincidences”. It moved me in a powerful way, and I hope that it does the same for you. I now know what to call those unexpected times that help us to recall wonderful moments in past as they still nourish us in the present. They are shoulder taps.

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