No Deposit. No Return

It’s the worse thing a bottle collector can face. For some years in the late 1960s, I scrounged bottles from trash cans, the sides of the road, and in gutters along the town street. I redeemed the bottles for cash. That money went toward groceries, gas, and a long way toward paying the rent. Occasionally I’d find a bottle that said simply, “No Deposit. No Return.” While appreciating others’ carelessness at throwing stuff out, I couldn’t litter. So I simple put the bottle into the bag and carried it along, depositing it in a trash bin when I come to one. [Huh. Reminds me about carrying around a lot of excess baggage, and to deal with it. . . but that will keep for another day.]

Thinking more about returning to places I’d lived, visited, or just passed through, I thought about places where I’ve not returned. I spent two years the mountains of Arizona. The time was both rewarding and miserable. Not alternately, either, but horribly trying and wonderfully fulfilling at the same time. I’ve thought about going back, in time, and redoing it better. I’ve thought about going back, visiting, too. But so far haven’t passed through there again.

That recalled a tune from way back about passing through and not returning.  Sometime in 1973, the rock due, Seals and Croft, released “We May Never Pass This Way (Again)”. It became quite the hit tune.

“And all the years will come and go, take us up, always up. We may never pass this way again,” they sing in part of the refrain. In the final verses, they tell us why: “So, I want to laugh while the laughin’ is easy. I want to cry if it makes it worthwhile. We may never pass this way again, that’s why I want it with you. ‘Cause, you make me feel like I’m more than a friend. Like I’m the journey and you’re the journey’s end. We may never pass this way again, that’s why I want it with you, baby.”

While it’s a love song, and a catchy one too. It may very well have come from the poetry of Eliza M. Hickok. Minister Hickok wrote and published poetry in the late 1800s. She may very well have taken the thoughts from the writings of Quaker Stephen Grellet.

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

While the essence of passing through and not returning are similar, there is a vast difference in the overall messaging. In the tune by Seals and Croft, as with much of the rock of the 1960s and 1970s, there is a bit of narcissism included. Well, perhaps a lot of it. It’s all about wanting enjoyment along the path because we won’t come that way again. Just like a bottle that will be tossed in the trash, No Deposit. No Return.

From Quaker Grellet and Minister Hickok, on the other hand, we hear of responsibility to do some good along the way. Minister Hickok wrote:

“The years glide by: stand strong and true!
The good thou canst, oh, quickly do!
Let gentle words sooth woe and pain,
We shall not pass this way again.”

For all those places I’ve passed through, whether lived or visited, I hope I left some deposit of good behind. Though I fear I did not, or that I did too little.

May Jesus Bless your socks off as you enter His presence!

[Wow! Don’t know where that came from.]


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