Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Where I'm From

We just returned from our eighth annual women's retreat.  Our first exercise was based on a poem called "Where I'm From."  This first poem is my example to our rockin' church ladies.

The second poem is their version to share with the congregation.

Where I'm From

I'm from piano keys and stacks of music yellowed with age
from folded Kleenex
and orange Tang
I am from bricks and small towns
and smelling like pot roast
I am from dogwoods
and blackberry bushes
with fruit for granny's cobblers
I am from naps on Sunday afternoons
and operatic arias rising up from the steam of a shower
from Dan and Jane, Elizabeth and Clarence, Mattie and Hobson
I'm from orchestras and theatre
study and good grades
I'm from "Roll Tide" and "Surely to the Lord"
and "Every man for himself"
I'm from "Just as I am" and "I Surrender All"
from "Amazing Grace" and "Jesus Loves Me"
I'm from North Carolina and Alabama
from peppermints and mashed potatoes
I'm from church choirs that never watched closely enough
and piano students who never practiced hard enough
I'm from music
its notes chasing each other into the melody that is my life.

Where We're From

We are from Rocking Chairs.
From colored pencils, pink alarm clocks, and Alka Seltzer tablets.
We are from Cake Night.
Shaking It Off while we Shut Up and Dance. 
It looked like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain or maybe Blurred Lines, but it made us Happy
We are from Black Mountain
               Where Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
We are from the hymns that make us Smile Like We Were Saved and Wake Us Up to the possibilities.
We are from Johnny and Ben, Bobo and Amy the Unicorn.
We are from Fanny Tucking and praying in color.
From     No Pressure But…….
               and Clear Hearts and Clear Minds
We are from Let There Be Peace On Earth and second chances.
We are Wilson’s Mills Christian Church
               The Bread and the Cup. 
Where all are Welcome
               and We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us
We are Sarah & Paula, Tanya & LeAnne, Lea & Melanie, Janet & Pat
We are Susie & Carrie, Kristine & Lynn, Linda & Sheree & Regena
We are Claudia & Jane & Lynda, Ginny & Heather, Trudy & Rose
From the Prayer Walk that opened our eyes to wonder, our ears to listen, relieved us of our worries and reminded us to intentionally meet God each day.
We are from the small but mighty trying to bring Joy to Every Heart.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


In worship today, we - and when I say "we," I really mean "I" - talked about dividing lines that separate people.  We used the Ephesians 2:11-22 text as our starting point.  To set the tone of the service, our bell choir rang "Let There Be Peace on Earth."  "Let it begin with me" and all that jazz.  This arrangement is one of our signature pieces.  We ring it a lot.  We ring it well.  We ring it with spirit and enthusiasm.  Truthfully, we could ring it with our eyes closed.

Only today, we did not ring it well.  We did not start out well.  We lost our place.  We rang bad notes. Our signature "Peace" song was following to pieces!

Now,  I have heard legends of our director stopping the choir during worship when things go badly awry.  I've heard that the choir has been asked to start over.  But, I've never experienced this phenomenon until today.

She stopped us, and basically, the bell choir took a mulligan with "Let There Be Peace on Earth."

I thought a do-over would be embarrassing, but I have to say...I was relieved that we were graciously given a second chance. We were not ringing up to par.  We were not ringing our best.  And, we were not setting the tone we had hoped!  We needed that mulligan!

Afterwards, a couple of ringers apologized for needing the second start.  But, you know, if you can't get a second chance in your own congregation, where can you get a second chance?

If you can't get a penalty-free mulligan when you mess up in your own congregation, where can you get a mulligan?  Not the British Open, that's for sure.

If you can't get a do-over when you are not at your best in your own congregation, where can you get a do-over?

Our church family is one place where do-overs are welcome and second chances are freely given.   We all mess up.  We all have things that we wish we could try again.  We all have days when we are not having our "A" game.

Here's the good news!  We worship a God of second chances.  So, of course, we want to be a people of second chances.  Thank you WMCC Bell Choir for having the courage to ask for a second chance and to OWN it!  Thank you WMCC Congregation for giving that second chance.

Proud to serve a congregation that recognizes when it messes up and is not ashamed to take a do-over!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Good for Nothing

Good for nothing.  Those are the words that came to mind on a warm, hazy afternoon last week.  I was on vacation in St. John, USVI with a group of friends.  We do a lot of snorkeling in St. John, and when I say a lot, I mean a LOT!  On Sunday, we spent the morning snorkeling around Maho Bay, but it was too crowded for our tastes.  Lots of families with small, squirmy children.  Lots of teenagers coming in on dinghies from the bigger boats in the center of the bay.  Lots of adults drinking a special punch.

So, after lunch, we walked into Leinster Bay - about a mile long walk - with all of our snorkel gear and our noodles.   We purchased those noodles when we arrived for $4.95 each at the drugstore.  Anyway, the walk in was hot so we decided to cool off by noodling around in the bay before putting on our gear and snorkeling over to Waterlemon.

But, that plan was not meant to be.

We ended up very uncharacteristically spending the entire afternoon floating around Leinster Bay in our sunglasses.  Good for nothing, we were!  Only one other family was on the beach.  They were too busy trying to take a picture of a baby nurse shark to pay us much attention.  Occasionally, a kayaker or a paddle boarder would pass by, but it was very quiet.  Just the sound of the water lapping up against the beach.  We talked some, but for the most part, we just floated.  Looking around.  When the sun broke through the clouds, the water would turn different shades of turquoise and blue and green.  There were times I was hardly able to believe that I was in a place so beautiful.  Hardly able to believe that I was capable of feeling so...peaceful.  Hardly able to believe that such a level of contentment was still available to me.

What if life is full of moments like this, and in my busy business, I rush right by them?

Making time to be good for nothing may be the secret to being good for something.

Friday, July 10, 2015

My Southern Heritage

I guess I have been blissfully ignorant for most of my adult life, because it never occurred to me that the Confederate flag was being flown in any official capacity until the shootings in Charleston . Then, I began to follow the story in South Carolina.  I witnessed lawmaker's changing their minds.  I witnessed elected officials admitting they were wrong.  That is newsworthy in and of itself.  Quite frankly, I had come to believe that our politicians voted along party lines without regard to anything or anyone else...unless that "anyone else" happened to be a big donor.

But, I digress.

Back to the flag.  I've read an awful lot about how removing the flag vilifies southern heritage and is disrespectful to the descendants of those who fought for the south during the Civil War.  I'm struck by how differently I feel about my own southern heritage.

I am a southerner.
I am a native North Carolinian.
My father is from the mountains of North Carolina.
My mother is from Alabama.
I refer to others as "y'all."
I eat grits.
I know all the words to the Alabama Crimson Tide's fight song.
I am southern.

When I think about my southern heritage - at least the part that I want to show off loud and proud - I think about the cool slate front porch where I spent many Saturday evenings with my great aunts, Lola Bell and Maxie.

I think of sweet tea
corn bread
biscuits and gravy
better  yet, biscuits and maple syrup

I think of yes m'am and no sir
please and thank you
no white shoes before Memorial Day (and those of you who wear them after Easter are truly the ones who vilify Southern culture!)

I think of "y'all come back" and "can you stay for dinner?"

I think of church on Sunday
prayer meetings on Wednesday
ice-cream suppers in the late afternoons

I think of strong women and gentle men

I think of casseroles after births
casseroles after deaths
casseroles after illness

I think of food a lot!

I guess when I think of the southern heritage that I want to display, it has more to do with graciousness and welcome.  It has to do with hospitality and making others feel welcome.  It has to do with minding your manners, and never being intentionally or proudly offensive to others.  Never.  It has to do with hosting others and not proclaiming our independence from others.  It has to do with setting a table that always has room for one more.  Mainly, it has to do with kindness....

So, I don't understand the veneration of the Confederate Flag.  It represents a part of my history that was very unkind.  While I do not want to forget that - and I don't want to forget what human beings are capable of doing to each other - that's not the part of my heritage that I want to celebrate or display.  The integrity with which I live my life is the most profound honor I can give to my ancestors.