Our American Legacy

Our angst, our sadness, even our anger, deserve personal process and time for reflection. “Moving forward” does not preclude allowing healthy introspection and taking the time to center. Our psyches have endured untold assault this past year in the disconnect Covid has rendered on so many levels.The events of this week add even more.

I pray for the family of Officer Brian Sicknick, who gave his life defending the Capitol premises and those trapped inside, our elected officials convened to conclude the election process. I also pray for the families of the four others who died, Ashli Babbitt, Benjamin Phillips, Kevin Greyson and Roseann Boyland. All of their families are left to grieve.

I try to think ahead to what will be taught in classrooms about this event in the near future as well as the distant future, even 100 years distant. I hope we leave a legacy that reflects, first and foremost, that the laws of our land prevailed. That these events were scrutinized and professionally investigated by measured, methodical means with outcomes applied within the laws we are all called to follow. Lack of accountability at all levels invites repeat behaviors, but more importantly, disrespects and dilutes those very laws and the people and institutions they are to protect.

We clearly need to be a reconciling people and that hard, long term work begins with each of us, in many ways. But work toward authentic unity can’t begin by dismissing the reality that transparency and courageous decision making requires now. Those decisions will become our legacy. They will tell our future citizens we allowed and used a wide lens, patient and thoughtful responses based on the benchmark of law, to exhibit our hopes and dreams for the long term. Citizens deserve to know, both now and in the future, our laws cannot be brushed aside for short term solutions that won’t stand the test of time.

Officer Sicknick did his job. We can honor his life by our responses. We can acknowledge all of those who lost their lives with our prayers.

And then we can become a reconciling people by listening closely for the answers to those prayers and living out those answers. God loves each of us. All of us. I fully trust in his answers that I know will start with loving one another as we love him.


Answered Prayers

Answered prayers

swirl in a wind

we name a

New Year.

Looking for a home

quiet and thoughtful

open to the grace

God promises

his beloved children

the world over.

Health and wellness

a liquid gold remedy

protection for all

a gift without favor.

Oh, the hope of change!

hearing rather than listening

acting rather than speaking

looking forward rather than back.

This year with a

new number

will reap the way

We change.

Reach out for kindness

grab compassion

as they fly by!

Let them settle

into open hearts

and open minds.

His answer is always faith.

His answer is always hope.

His answer is always love.



“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13


All Saints Sunday

Our losses

too many

the time

too short

too close

too soon.


become a


each movement

a whisper that

replays the stories

the lives

that lead to

the Christ.

The Corinthians

body of Christ

The Builders Class


sixteen strong!

soon to be the

Robert I Moore Class

numbers to surpass

all others.

Lives of


and care




their blending


their call


These saints

our teachers



the new

the young

even now.

God’s victory

replacing loss!


valued lives

marched with


served with


loved like


Beloved, all

Saints, all.


for The Seekers Class

to honor the Robert I Moore class

All Saints Sunday, 2020

The Election

This long awaited


cries out

for history


for honor

for character

for silence.

For prayers

of unity

rather than



for freedom

hard won.

For the stories

of long ago

when courage

and sacrifice


the common good

a model for living.

For gospel words


center and distill

what justice looks like

what justice feels like

for all.

Words that remind


is a verb.



“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

The Gift of Fall

The comfort

of same.

Crisp days

the changing



a creation

that offers


Birds heading


fiery colors


every hue


the palette

of fall.

Flowers bending

to sleep

leaves falling

to become

their protector

a time

for rest.

Hold on.

Don’t let go.

Be still.

God reminds


the same.



Justice Through Legislation

I am indebted to Justin Jones and all those who join him on their 59th day at Ida B. Wells Plaza, bringing light to many social injustices that might never be known otherwise. I am grateful to know this young man who has put Divinity School at Vanderbilt on hold to witness to God’s call for justice.
Today, he is highlighting our reconvened state lawmakers who meet to consider legislation around the right to protest as well as limiting liability for businesses and corporations around issues of Covid in the workplace.
We need to be paying close attention to both, as they represent rights of Americans that are long reaching. For several weeks we have wondered why we aren’t hearing from OSHA, our federal agency tasked with setting and enforcing standards to assure safe and healthful conditions in the work place. Many of us have written compliance manuals around OSHA’s guidelines! Over the years, those guidelines have been necessarily
fluid and adjusted to new information.
So, Covid does not require a completely unknown standard, though ongoing information and research will add to the standards for a safe workplace as time goes on. That has always been the case with OSHA guidelines. Nothing new.
Limiting liability for American (or Tennessee) employers does not protect workers who have been exposed to this virus at work, indeed became ill, at home or hospitalized on a ventilator, etc. Legislation that denies legal recourse for workers who worked without standards in place or standards that weren’t followed or standards
that required change and weren’t changed, is unthinkable!
Going forward, these workers have no idea the long term effects of this disease, how it will affect their return to work, their financial futures and the like. OSHA guidelines are to be written on behalf of workers, not corporations or businesses. If workers were protected to the fullness of known standards at the time, that sets
the benchmark and protects employers. If the known standards at the time of infection were not identified and followed,workers have a right to legal action. Think medical workers without adequate PPE throughout this pandemic (there were many options not taken to provide the numbers and quickly) meatpackers, grocery workers who were (and still are) exposed by unmasked customers who feel free to exercise their “rights,” restaurant workers and on and on. Masks and the like should not require a belated Mayor’s mandate; they should be part of the safety requirement required by OSHA. Enforcement would be at the behest of the employer as I have heard has been done well, since the beginning, by Costco, Whole Foods, Fresh Market. Hospitals protected workers as well as patients with a no visitors policy…from the beginning.
Allowing for no liability at the employer level will ask for lowered standards, if any, allowing workers to return to the workplace when they should be quarantined or home recovering. It is an invitation to the spread of the virus because of lack of accountability.
I have been meaning to write about this for some time and fully realize few will read or agree, or perhaps care. These decisions will affect many, many people down the line. People who likely worked so we might have resources, food and health care at their expense. It may be your husband or wife, your son or daughter, etc.
Call your lawmakers, make your voice heard. If you don’t know your representatives’ numbers, just google!

Searching for Positive

Interfacing with social media brings family and friends to our home at a time when presence isn’t advisable. So, seeing those faces of new babies, toddlers, siblings, high school friends, local friends and those scattered far and wide seems justified and almost necessary.

Even with editing and “hiding” posts and the like, it also brings a powerful picture of chaos, poor communication, unjust references, incorrect information, outside influences  and a shroud of negative. Choosing to stay or leave becomes a consideration.

I was thinking last week of the days many of us tutored/mentored young children in the inner city. Children now in their 20’s might I add! We were there a very long time and watched them grow.

Each year, I would start each homework session by asking the child to stand, look in my eyes, and tell me who they were special to that day…or what they thought made them special. Over time, I was able to ask them for more in depth answers and could tell they gave it some thought in between our visits. They had remarkable answers!

So, I have been thinking about the question. Who am I special to and what makes me special? To carry the claim further, how do I use the ways God made me special to make this time more positive; how do I use whatever that might be, big or small, to become part of a solution rather than adding to the vitriol? How do I, even isolated, become the answer to the prayers God hears? Do I start with prayer? Do I listen for the answer?

So, to change the rhetoric, I ask you the same…who are you special to and what makes you special? How can you share that in a time that needs you?

For those who are comfortable, it would be lovely to hear your answer! Those answers give the rest of us creative ideas we might not have considered! Those answers make us think differently, perhaps. Those answers bind us as a community, not naive, looking for pie in the sky, but a community who starts to look for the good; who becomes part of the solution, whether it is simply wearing a mask or following precious guidelines for wellness. That science is an answered prayer.

Interacting these months with old friends who attend Glencliff UMC has been my teaching tool in these days. They are doing the teaching! Many have no internet, several no phones. They have pastors (Rev. Neelley Hicks and Rev. Ingrid McIntyre) who have been incredibly inventive in finding ways to keep this small congregation connected and cared for…..a lot of my joy these days are those phone conversations. My sweet friend, Brenda, who happens to be blind, sings to me! (She has a beautiful voice, clearly what makes her special!) A lot of my joy comes from knowing they can attend worship over their phones, if they have one. I have one friend whose phone is available on a “minute” plan so she is unable to hear the service. It takes too many of her expensive minutes. So, another member calls her each week to tell her about the worship service. Think about that. I do.

Hope to hear from you.







Second Chances

do you ever

want to make




become less


to be more



distill feelings

to a core

that excludes



redefines the




without moving

to music






new earth






leave the






finds its





05.18.20 (edited)


A New Legacy


I have been thinking and praying about now….this very moment, this very time in our lives. We are all experiencing these events in many different ways, with differing concerns. We are trying to muddle through the fear of getting sick and the economic impact…..and are reading and hearing mixed messages that do little to comfort. We are being exposed to the best of who we are far more than the worst, though that exists. Our mental health is taking a beating we haven’t quantified in any meaningful way. We too often have little understanding of what survival means past food, shelter and utilities. It seems different for everyone.

I am in there with all the rest! But as time goes on, little time in the bigger picture, I have thought and thought about our history and how it teaches. How it informs what we now call “best practices.” How its lessons can model our way forward, whether it is 1941 or now?  How do we become another “greatest generation”? What made that generation great?….they endured both the Great Depression and WWII. What will our legacy be for these days and weeks…perhaps months or years? What will the history books say about our society and our response as individuals that make up that society? What will our young people, children, grandchildren, friends and colleagues remember about each of us…how we behaved, how we spoke, how we respected one another by following suggested public health guidelines? How we interacted with a hurting world? When we think of prior national events that called for long term sacrifice, does wearing a mask pale by comparison?  What model or example do we need to provide to reflect a people of character, of integrity, of compassion, of love for one another?

For those who follow the Christian gospel message, these requests are the walking responses…..loving your neighbor now means allowing your neighbor to remain well. For the vulnerable neighbor, of any age, it can mean the difference between living or dying.

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

These photos represent ration books that belonged to husband John’s family. They were part of the national response to World War II to set price limits and ration food and other commodities in order to discourage hoarding and ensure the equitable distribution of scarce resources. Even the rationed items were dependent on availability which changed often and foods were scarce. Sugar, coffee, meat, cheese, fats, canned fish, canned milk were just some of the foods rationed. Instructions included the following: “when you have used your ration, salvage the tin cans and waste fats. They are needed to make munitions for our fighting men.” I try to imagine this happening now. 

Other items rationed included automobiles, tires, gasoline, fuel oil, nylon, silk and shoes.

Many of us have heard of these events first hand, through the words of parents or grandparents. Some were children during those years…..John included. Many of you might say the same. He remembers soldiers on their farm property, maneuvers an every day event. He remembers his mother cooking for the soldiers with food from their “Victory Garden,” another federally suggested response that provided 40% of the vegetables grown during the war. For those who lived in cities, window boxes proved to work for growing small amounts. The goal was collective…..food for American families that therefore allowed more food to be sent overseas to soldiers.
On many fronts, in many ways, citizens worked together for the war effort and the good of all. We have mostly all heard or read of the sacrifices made on a daily basis for the duration of the war, 1941-1945. We know of the respect and appreciation long felt towards those who served, those who died and those who provided support at home. To speak of the economics of the time and the changes for individual families would add volumes to an already minimized set of paragraphs. It’s just not possible!

Wearing a mask and safe distancing seem amazingly simple. None of us should leave a legacy that includes the death of a family member…or a neighbor, because we failed to protect them by our individual choices. We haven’t lost our rights….we will always have the right to make good choices that will benefit our families as well as our neighbors.