Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

One of the greatest joys for parents is to see their children read the Bible. Thus, as soon as I was able to read, I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. In the second and third grades, one reads the Bible literally. In the book of Exodus, the Romanian translation stated that God built houses for the Jewish midwives because they had protected the Jewish children (Exodus 1:21). I imagined God like one of my uncles who came over to build houses for these ladies. Later on, I understood that the word “house” meant that God gave them homes or, in a better translation, God gave them families.

As I read through the book of Psalms, I came to the part of the Psalter where David says, “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man” (Ps. 147:10a). I did not understand the warlike metaphor from the days of David where one was concerned with the power of his horse and the strength that comes from the legs of a man. God, who was giving victory to his people without large armies or strong men, did not pay attention to these things. (Later in life, I watched a movie where Cleopatra tells Caesar that she has strong thighs and therefore he will be blessed with strong sons. I do not know how many young ladies seek to attract their future husbands today by telling their beloved that they have strong thighs.)

I have often thought that men’s legs can be so majestic, especially on the soccer field. I have a picture of me dribbling down the field, which contributes to the vanity about my college soccer days. My friendship with one of my best friends started when he passed me the ball from his position as a fullback and I scored a goal from that pass. We became friends, then we became roommates, and we are still good friends 50 years later. I think that picture of me in my soccer uniform shows me in the best physical shape I have ever been in. Whenever my children look at it, they talk about the great muscles that a soccer player has. I like that picture a lot!

A couple of weeks ago, I went outside to cut a vine that was climbing up a tree in our backyard after concluding it would destroy that tree in a few years. A couple of days later, the vine was dry and I started to itch all over my body. Within three days, I had blotches all over my hands. A few days later, I had them all over my legs too. I have never seen my arms and especially my legs look so angry, with so many awful blotches. Even calamine and a steroid do not seem to calm them down.  Vanity of vanities! My wife patiently tells me that I should stop scratching because I will spread it all over again, but it itches so much that I am still scratching (against her excellent judgement).

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

One can say that in a sense both the ivy and I were victors. I did succeed in cutting the vine, but I cut it without knowing what kind of plant it was. The vine told me exactly what it was by making these big blotches on my arms and legs. In all of my life I do not ever remember having poison ivy but now that we have a garden, I have to learn to distinguish which plants/vines will assault my legs as I try to become Gardener George!


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George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...