Thursday, December 14, 2017

Why Did These Women Wait So Long to Come Forward?

photo by Bob MacInnes / flickr

One of the big insults to all these women who had the courage to come forward and say: "Me too" has been all the chatter we have heard lately. Why did they wait so long? If this was such a problem why didn't they say something when it (supposedly) happened? Well, I think we have our answer without looking too closely. The way these women that have come forward at great risk have been treated speaks multitudes. Talk about abuse.

Being a man I can't quite answer the questions--but I will try. They did not come forward because they were afraid they would lose their jobs. Many had families they had to support. Many were on a career track and they were certain that if they said anything they would be in real trouble. Why didn't they do something or say something before now? They were fourteen years old and did not know what to say. They were seventeen and were afraid of what fathers, boyfriends or those at school would say. We've heard it all: They must have asked for it. Or--look at the way she dressed. Let's look at her sexual history. Hmm. It took enormous courage for these women to begin to speak out. And we should listen...and we should change this picture. 

Actress, Alyssa Milano recently used her Twitter account to encourage women who had been sexually harassed to assaulted to tweet the word, "MeToo." In the first 24 hours a spokesperson from Twitter confirmed Alyssa Milano's Tweet had been tweeted nearly half a million times. 

This whole debate by men about abortion, about contraception, about unequal pay for women who do the same job as men and a multitude of other issues reflects just how much we still need to change the picture. Abuse takes many, many forms and women know this well.

My friend in Birmingham sent me an email that his daughter had sent him. Worth pondering. Thanks Cecelia Watts.

" As a counselor,  I see women frequently that have been sexually abused and work with them on these issues.  They suffer from depression, anxiety,  PTSD,  substance abuse, trauma issues, relationship problems and other issues that are related to their sexual abuse.  Their abuse indeed has lifelong and far-reaching very harmful effects.  I could not count the times that I've been the first person these women told of their sexual abuse that many times occurred years or decades ago.  The reason they don't tell sooner is fear of not being believed and shame or embarrassment.  And many times their fears were realized because they weren't believed by their own mothers if they did tell because it was their father or their mother's boyfriend or another family member who was the perpetrator.  And they were told to be quiet and no one stood up for them.  There's therapeutic value in abused women telling their story and caution is important when deciding whether one believes them or not.  Because the next woman to come forward about being sexually abused could be that person's mother, aunt, sister or daughter." 

photo by Sudiptorana / flickr
 --Roger Lovette /

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Happy Birthday--Gayle

She came into my life I think in the fall of 1959. A blind date. We went out with her sister and my buddy. “The twins” everybody called them. I knew from that first candlelit night in Mario’s Pizza place that something special was happening on my end. I can still remember that dark green dress she wore. Her hair was in a French twist. And she was—and is—the prettiest girl I had ever seen.

She and her sister were born December 10th, 1939 in Louisville, Kentucky. Her parents were surprised when the Doctor said, “There’s two.” They did not expect that. They named them Gayle and Gwyn and from then until now no two sisters could be closer or loved each other more. 

They were both fine musicians—her sister on the viola and Gayle on the piano. They were good enough to get scholarships and they chose the University of Louisville. They still claim it was the best school that ever was. 

And after we married in 1961 and moved to this country place in the middle of nowhere—she must have wondered what she had gotten herself into. And I am sure through the years—from church to church—she must have wondered more than once—what in the world have I gotten myself into.

Two kids and many dogs and cats came into our home through the years. Leslie, a curly-haired red head came first and four years later another red-head—Matthew came roaring into the world. There never was a better Mama. And when I was off doing “the Lord’s work” she was changing diapers and wiping away spills and keeping the ship steady and making sure the kids were not naked when they left the house. 

On our first trip to Paris I asked her, "Did you ever think we we would be in Paris?" And she said: "Sure." There was no doubt in her mind that things would be good even those days when I wondered. 

I love the old quote that says: “She was the brightest thing in the store window.” Still is. 

And so after many dangers, toils and snares she has stayed with me and been an utter delight. And on this, her birthday weekend I would stop and sing her the Doxology if I could carry a tune. Happy Birthday dear…I love you. I love you. I love you.

--Roger Lovette /

Monday, December 4, 2017

Edwina Hunter--A Tribute

photo by hehaden / flickr

(Dr. Edwina Hunter, ordaIned in the American Baptist Church, was one of the most distinguished preachers in America. After her retirement as the Joe R. Engle Professor of Preaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City she moved back to California. She was past president of the Academy of Homiletics, the editor of a volume of women's sermons, and had numerous sermons published in other volumes. She served on the Advisory Board of "The Living Pulpit" and was a frequent guest lecturer and preacher. She is survived by her daughter, Wendy Jo Snyder.)

It’s a strange world sometimes. We bump into someone, shake their hands—get their names not knowing that in the days to come they will change our lives forever. Edwina was one of those people for me. She was one of three women we ordained as a Deacon in the little church I came to. This was the late sixties—and ordaining women to such important posts was unheard of, at least in Baptist life. In fact we were one of the first churches to ordain women as deacons in the Southern Baptist denomination. But despite all the hoopla from the Baptists—it did not change anything one whit. 

Dear Edwina was a Deacon. She would sit in the choir and see people in the congregation she did not know. And would whisper a prayer “for those troubled faces.” She would bring little explosive books to our Deacons meetings, pass them out and quietly suggest we might just find something in there that would help us along. She was right. She taught at the college—oral interpretation we used to call it. But she took a whole cadre of wild, rough long-haired kids of the sixties and formed a group called Wordmasters. She opened a larger world to these kids from tiny little places in Kentucky. She not only taught them how to speak distinctly--but the power of the spoken word. She took her touring group around the country and moved audiences with their words. She invited people like Dr. Davie Napier  to our little church. He had taught at Yale and was Chaplain at Stanford and the author of many books. 

She had married Bob and together they adopted a little girl they named Wendy Jo. She and my son were partners in crime. They went to Montessori School together. There they met Sister Margie who woud not only change their lives—but got her foot into their parent’s lives and in the church I served. Edwina introduced this Baptist congregation to this nun, this sister—Margie and we learned much from the rich wealth of her tradition. Edwina taught us the church and the world was bigger than most of us had envisioned. 

She was one of many who marched out of the church in Georgetown, Kentucky that would not allow black folk to join—and started another church. They called it Faith—and from its very beginnings they flung open the doors to whomever would come. She helped in her own quiet, strong way to keep us honest. That little building, with folding chairs looked out through plain windows into a world larger than we dreamed. Edwina and Bob helped immensely in that effort. 

Edwina helped me, her young-green pastor. She affirmed me in so many ways. She told me how we could experiment in worship and church itself. She introduced me not only to books. She taught me what prayer was all about--the utter seriousness it was to bow our heads and whisper to the Almighty. She introduced me to Lee, her well-know friend in her profession. She had gone everywhere and knew so many people and she introduced me to many of these and the windows opened even wider.

She and Bob parted ways and she moved on. If memory is correct she went back to Northwestern and finished her doctorate. And her reputation spread until she became Professor of Preaching first I think at Claremont in California and then at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She influenced so many that would scatter around the world with a news that was good. My wife and I visited her in New York while she taught there. She lived in “the Paul Tillich Apartment.” And we stayed there one weekend wondering what ghosts there may have been surrounding us. She took us downtown to the World Trade Center and we had dinner one night at the Windows of the World Restaurant overlooking Manhattan. On 9/11 it would all come crashing down. 

In her retirement years she and Wendy Jo moved back to California. About once a year we would talk on the telephone. She remembered all those days in Georgetown—and the richness we both had found there. 

Her daughter, Wendy Jo called me this last week. She told me her Mother had died in November. When the fires  were raging outside Oakland she and Wendy Jo had to flee for their lives. But the smoke from those fires did great damage to Edwina’s lungs—and she slipped into the mystery with Wendy Jo holding her hand. 

We all have people who have made an enormous difference in our lives. We never know when we shake hands for the first time with someone just where this might lead. So we need to keep our eyes and hearts open lest we miss those incredible gifts that come in the most unlikely of packages. 

And so I remember Edwina Hunter and thank God that she was a vital part of my own journey.

I give her this Benediction which comes from the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead:

“Into paradise may the angels lead her;
at her coming may the martyrs take her up into eternal rest,
and may the chorus of angels
 lead her to that holy city,
and the place of perpetual light.”

—Roger Lovette /

Advent Time: Home for Christmas

photo by Elvis Ripley / flickr

She sat by the door of the Nursing Home. As I came in she looked up and said, “Take me home. Would you take me home.” As I left she was still sitting there looking out the window. And she said, “Take me home…would you please take me home.”

Just say the word home and memories swirl. I can still remember what it all looked like. Little four room house. Porch on the front. You entered the front door and there was the living room. I can still remember where the couch was, where the piano was located, in the corner where the secretary-desk stood. To the right was the bedroom my brother and I slept in. I could tell you to this day where the twin beds were and the dresser and the chifforobe. Behind our room was my parent’s bed-room and behind there was the bathroom with the bathtub resting on those four claws. Across from my parent’s bedroom was the kitchen. We had a chrome kitchen table with the yellow formica top and four matching chairs. A pantry
photo by Yvonne Eijkenduljin / flickr
was in the corner…a gas stove, little sink and a pie safe which held our dishes. Say that word, home and we all are taken back to another time and another place. Do you remember?

If you turn to the book of Isaiah you’ll find some of the same memories. First Assyria had invaded their homeland and in that weakened state Babylon marched in and finished the job. They leveled the temple, they salted down the farm lands, they poisoned the wells. And then they dragged off the smartest and brightest of the Israelites. They took those captives 700 miles across the desert. They were homeless. and cut off from everything they loved and cared for. Gods's people were there for 50 years and they called it exile. The theme runs through book after book in the Old Testament. That cursed word, exile. Psalm after Psalm raised the cry: “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” Translated: How can we sing the Lord’s song so far from home. Hostages. Under the thumb of the cursed Babylonians.  And like that little woman in the nursing home they said it over and over : “I want to go home…I want to go home.”

This was the setting of Isaiah 40-55. Isaiah 1-39 was written before the exile. Isaiah 56-66 was written after the exile ended. But today we turn to that exile time which is found in Isaiah 40-55. And some lone prophet—spoke to all those held captive. What did he say to his brothers and sisters so far from home? Some days they were so homesick thought they would die. And the church has turned to these words year after year and found comfort and hope in the hardest of times. 

photo by Trish / flickr
And these are the words they turned to.“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people says your God…” “In the wilderness prepare the way  of the Lord…” Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain shall be made low; the uneven ground shall become level , and the rough places a plain”. “They that wait on the Lord will renew their strength…” “Do not fear…I have called you by name and you are mine…” “And then those wonderful words: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers they will not overwhelm you…” Read the words yourself this Christmas.

Why has the church chosen these particular words Christmas after Christmas? Because Christians in every age have known about exile and dislocation and homesickness. We know it too. Rumors of war once again. Now there is yet another I-Phone to learn. If the other one was not enough. All this talk about sexual harassment everywhere. Have we gone crazy? My wife sent me to the store the other day to get some coffee. Coffee. Simple enough. I stood there before that long line of coffees—stretching on and on. Coffee—which one? And sure enough when I got home said, “This is not the coffee I wanted.” Everything is so complicated. Ever tried to open a jar?

I teach a grief group a couple of times a year. And they sit in a circle and tell me the loved ones they lost. A child…a husband. A wife…a brother or sister. A parent. And life for them will be forever different. People surrounded me when I lost him or her—but weeks, months later nobody comes—and life goes on for them. I tell them it is like an amputation. They say: ”I rattle around in this old house—and I’m all alone. And it is so hard. We know about exile, don’t we. 

And at Christmastime I think we all think about how it was and how everything seems to
photo by / flickr
have has changed. Isaiah spoke to homesickness and heartbreak. And he spoke out of his own heart to a people who had their own separate longings. They looked across the desert to the way it used to be and they would whisper: “Take me home…take me home.” 

And in that time of exile his words would shine like a beacon in the darkness. No darkness could ever put out that light. “Comfort ye…comfort ye my people…Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and tell her that her warfare is over…” And Isaiah told them the strangest  thing. Exile was only for a season. Babylon will not always endure. Bel and Nebo—their cursed manmade gods—would crumble and fall. Didn't look that way. Still doesn't.

And Isaiah gave those people knee-deep in homesickness two powerful images of God. One is global and one is personal. First, he says, “Your God is a conquering king.” (10) “He comes with might,,,his arms rule for him…his reward is with him…his recompense is before him.” So folks, he said, you can smooth out all the wrinkles and wipe away all your tears. These words are overture—they will form the theme for the next 15 chapters. Over and over again he will say: Your God is with you. And this is Christmas. We all need a glimpse of this vision that Isaiah saw. God really is conquering king. And we need sometime this season to move away from all the noise and hoopla and remember this is the breaking news. Not all that other stuff. God is here and he comes with power and with might.

And Isaiah follows that vision with another word: If that first word is global—this second word is personal. He is not only conquering king—but he is also the Gentle Shepherd. “He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”

courtesy of flickr
I never really understood this Shepherd thing until I was in a hard place. And I was at a Conference in Washington for a week. It was held on the grounds of the Washington Cathedral. It was a busy week of work and I had almost no time of my own. But toward the end of that week I decided, after breakfast to visit the great Washington Cathedral which was just up the hill. It was early but I thought the Church would be open. It wasn’t. I tried door after door but they were all locked.  I turned around and decided to go back to my room—and walking by the side of the church I saw a sign that said, “The Chapel of the Good Shepherd.” So I went through that door, walked down a hall and thought maybe I could sneak upstairs and see the Cathedral. That inside door was locked. As i started out and saw the sign: “Chapel of the Good Shepherd.” It was a tiny room maybe two or three little pews. I sat down and looked up at the altar and there was this stone carving of The Shepherd holding a sheep in his arms. On that ledge, beside that stature was a tiny vase and someone had placed a sprig of forsythia there. Something happened to me I have never quite understood. As I looked at that rendering of the Good Shepherd with his arms around that lamb—I saw myself. He was the Good Shepherd and he looked down at the little sheep in his arms and I saw something I had never seen before. I had preached a lot of sermons on the 23rd Psalm. But suddenly the words came to life. Looking up I knew he was my Shepherd—and he held me in his arms—and I was safe and somehow everything would be all right. 

This is what Isaiah was saying to a troubled people. He is conquering king but he is more than that to us. He is also the Good Shepherd. And those exiles that really heard his words knew that they were kept and they would somehow make it through whatever came. Why? Because he never let them go. No wonder we call this first candle hope. For in a hard time and in a very dark place—this was not the end.

I thought about the Shepherd and the lamb in an old story that has made the rounds through the years. Three boys and three girls were on a bus, going to Fort Lauderdale for Spring break. They had left the cold and ice of New York and dreamed of sun and sand blue, blue water.

As they passed through New Jersey they noticed a man that said his name was Vingo. He was dressed pretty shabbily and they could tell by his face that life had not been too good. Outside Washington everyone got off at the Howard Johnson’s except Vingo. He just sat on the bus and the young people began to wonder about him. When they got back in the bus one of the girls sat down next to him and slowly he began to tell her his story. He told her that he had been in jail in New York for four years and now he was going home. 

She asked him if he was married and he said he didn’t know. He had been married but when he got arrested he told his wife that he was going to be away for a long time and she didn’t have to wait for him. He loved her but he knew it was going to be very hard for her and their three kids. He told her that she didn’t even have to write. So he had not heard from her in over three years. 

The girl asked, “You’re going home not even knowing?” “Yeah, I know it’s kinda crazy but I’m going anyway. We used to live in Brunswick, just before Jacksonville and there’s a big oak tree everybody could see when you come into town. And after I was paroled, I wrote my wife and said that if she’d take me back, she should put a yellow handkerchief on that tree, and I’d get off and come home. If she didn’t want me, forget it—no handkerchief and I’d go on through.” The girl said, “Wow. Wow.”

She told her buddies and as they got closer and closer to Brunswick they started looking for a big old oak tree. Vingo looked too. They were ten miles from Brunswick and then five, three and then one mile and suddenly all the young people started shouting and screaming and crying. All except Vingo. He just sat there looking out the window. Looking. The oak tree was covered with yellow handkerchiefs—there must have been 20 of them, maybe thirty, maybe even a hundred fluttering in the breeze. As the young people kept shouting, the bus stopped and Vingo got off the bus and made his way home. 

For two thousand years the church has been lighting candles and singing its songs. Why do we keep doing this? Because despite all the exiles and all the Babylons that can break our hearts there is a good news of great joy that has come to all people. We are not alone. Any of us. God is a conquering king. All-powerful. But God is also the Gentle Shepherd. He cares for each one of us. And the good news is that there is a home and we are welcomed and we are loved and we are cared for. And so we light candles and sing songs and decorate our houses. Knowing deep in our hearts that we are not alone ever, ever again.

“To an open house in the evening, 
Home shall a men come,
To an older town than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star, 
To the things that cannot be and that are
To the place where God is homeless
And all of us are at home.”

   —G.K. Chesterton

photo by Kathy Ponce / flickr

(This sermon was preached at the Mount Zion Presbyterian Church, Sandy Springs, SC , 12-3-17)

--Roger Lovette /

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Advent I: Christmas--Don't Miss the Glory

photo courtesy of technolibrary / flickr

Every year like many of you I keep coming back to those old words in Isaiah. Sometimes I read them—sometimes I put on the old Messiah music and hear the mournful words: “Comfort ye…comfort ye my people. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem…”

God knows we need some comfort these strange days. And somebody, somewhere needs to speak tenderly to us. The harshness of our times is wearying. The old prophet had it right—in the wilderness get ready. In the desert it is going to happen. Something you won’t find on any GPS. In that desert there will be highway that leads us where we desperately need to go. 

And along your wilderness or desert is a glorious promise. The valleys—everyone of them shall be lifted up…the mountains and hills so hard to climb will be made low…that uneven ground—which we tread day after day will be leveled…and all the rough places from Washington to Aleppo to the street where you live—will be straight and smooth and make just living a joy. 

And somewhere through the years some old scribe bent over a scroll or some calligraphed Latin text and muttered: ”That’s Christmas! That’s the real Christmas!” The old man looked out the smeared windows at what lay out there. Poverty…,hunger for many…broken and wounded folk…children with no light in their eyes—a world gone wrong. And the old reader, turned began to the manuscript,  traced the words with his finger and tried unsuccessfully to hold back the tears. 

“The glory of the Lord shall be revealed…” We all need some glory in this winter of our discontent. We won’t find it anywhere else. Oh I know we keep looking and hoping, just hoping that at Wal Mart or Dillards or Barnes and Noble we will find it maybe. We’ll string up the lights and haul dusty boxes from the attic—trees to be assembled. Ornaments to be found. Extension cords located yet another yuletide season. We won’t just keep it inside—but we’ll move through the front door to hang the wreaths, to string lights and more lights along the shrubbery. We’ll go back into the house and place little tiny candles in each of the windows. 

We might search for the Christmas list or open the boxes of greeting cards. We’ll make a long list of what we need to get at the Grocery store and how we will set the dining room table. We will wrap or hide the presents for the little ones and sometimes the big ones too. We’ll exhaust ourselves with these customs we cling to year after year. 

The old prophet was right. More than anything we really do long for some glory. But it won’t
be found in any of our fevered activities. Somebody called it the “big OK.” Hoping that amid the faces and the presents and the time off we will discover at the heart of it all—that we are OK and we are loved and that it all matters. All of it. The rest of the year. The visits to the fresh dug graves. The time in the hospital. The job we wish was a little better. Worries about credit cards. 

But we won’t find the glory there. But it’s coming. In a darkened Christmas Eve service as a little boy comes forward, holding a candle singing: “This little light of mine…” Or looking down your pew at the family members you are so proud of and hope others notice. Maybe the glory will slip in when you open that card or some package from far away. Or watching the bathrobe drama you’ve seen a hundred times—and yet something good and clean stirs once more. It could even be opening the leather-bound book to Luke Two and reading it over yet again. It could even come when you unwrap that nativity set and place Mary and Joseph and and a few animals and maybe even an angel too in place. But carefully set at the center of it all: a baby. Of all things that ties it all together: a baby. Like some buried treasure—the glory really is there for your finding.

If we are lucky somewhere when we least expect it this season—the glory just might come. To  comfort whatever it is in you that needs a comforting. To speak to your wilderness or the desert of your days. To send you back like those Shepherds and Wise Men to ordinary days where, like them you will praise God for all you have seen or heard.

I don’t knock the presents or the decorations or all the other parts that make this season so shining. But unless somewhere in these darkened days we touch the glory we will have missed it all. 

--Roger Lovette /

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Salute to Women

Looks like this is the Year of the Woman. Or maybe The Sexual Predators. Or maybe just Women Bashing. Reminds me of an old book that (thank God) is out-of-date by John R. Rice (of fundamentalist fame of yesteryear). The book was called: (I kid you not) Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives and Women  Preachers. Anyway in response to the Tennessee Baptist Convention dismissing a church  because (horrors!!) they have called a woman minister...Nancy Sehested has written a mighty fine response. I have always thought she was one of the best preachers I have ever heard--and has been a long-time friend. The Baptist Global News printed her fine piece called: God Speaks Through donkeys, burning bushes, rocks--and Women Preachers. Read it--and maybe stop when you are finished and strike up the Doxology.

A lifer shared his conversion experience during the sharing of joys and concerns in the worship service at the maximum-security prison where I served as chaplain. “I got a prayer concern,” he said. “I was talking to some guys out on the yard this morning. They said they wouldn’t come to the service because women can’t preach. I told ’em I used to think the same way. Then I was studyin’ on a story in the Bible and I decided if God can speak through Balaam’s ass then God can speak through Chaplain Sehested.”
The news that God can speak through donkeys, burning bushes, rocks and women ministers is still making the rounds in the yard. Recently the Tennessee Baptist Convention severed the 140-year-old ties with First Baptist Church of Jefferson City for calling the Rev. Ellen Di Giosia as pastor. The story is a repeat of one that happened 30 years ago. Prescott Memorial Baptist Church in Memphis was “disfellowshipped” from the Shelby County Baptist Association for calling me as their pastor. The same justifications were used for the rupture. We were considered heretical, unbiblical and violators of the word of God.
The executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board said that the recent vote to bar the church from voting in the annual state meeting showed that “the convention is committed to scripture … and is firm in its position that only men can serve as senior pastors.” That position has certainly been firm, but is it a commitment to scripture or a commitment to power over women?
The Bible continues to be used for good and for ill. An Alabama state auditor used the Mary and Joseph story to condone adult male predatory behavior on teenage girls. The Bible is bruised and battered from its misuse as a weapon for abuse, hatred and prejudice.
There was a time when I enjoyed volleying Bible verses back and forth with those who differed from me. In my growing up Baptist church I was a champion of “sword drills” and the memorization of scripture. I was prepared for the debates. I had the idea that I could toss a Bible verse into an opposing camp and see it explode with new converts. I stopped the practice when the casualty count rose with increased hostility and division.
Instead I found myself wanting to have a conversation about our common fears, about how the world is changing too fast and it can make us afraid enough to think people different from us are enemies. I wanted to talk about our fears for our children in an unsafe world awash in endless cruelty and violence. I wanted to talk about the scripture as a source for bringing us together, not tearing us apart. But we never found a way to have that conversation. Here we are 30 years later with the same divisions in our religious yards. And once again it is not women ministers who are to be feared.
There will always be daring churches like First Baptist of Jefferson City who will not be afraid to live into God’s vision of the full partnership of women and men in ministry. Women pastors will continue to seek and find denominational homes in hospitable places.
Yet I still fear the perpetuation of the belief in our second-class status. Dismissing women pastors in particular reflects a dangerous belief about women in general. The damaging denigration is being revealed in the daily news reports of assaults, intimidation, and violence against females of every age. A religion that justifies the subjugation of women and the superiority of men through sacred texts is a religion that creates the dynamic for the abuse of power. It teaches men that they have the divine right of sovereignty over our bodies and our destinies. It cultivates an image of inferiority in women that is internalized. It is perilous to the welfare of women and undermines the trust essential for mutual relationships of respect.
Let’s be studyin’ on that story in the Bible about everyone living in peace and unafraid.
 --Roger Lovette /

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It's Thanksgiving--and the Room is Filled with Faces

On this Thanksgiving Day
the room is filled with faces.
Much like that scene in the book where
   there are just too many to number.
And yet I remember. Some at least.
Most have slipped away somewhere—
 But the delight they brought—those unremembered 
  and remembered ones—
  the doors they opened—the fun we had—
  all those shining times when the sun really did stand still.
These remain embedded deep in my heart.
That’s why I need a Thanksgiving.
To open the door and see here and there
   those that have cheered me on—and others too.

On this Thanksgiving Day
the room is filled with faces.
The old book says we are all surrounded by a sea of witnesses...
  and this is true.
The woman who birthed me and named me 
  and held me close to her breast her whole life long.
The church with its tall white columns and stained glass windows 
and its picture of Jesus—
But more—all those who made faith so possible that after 82 years
  I am amazed to discover that old ragged “I will be with you” is true after all.
The schools...the books...the fun...
But more: classmates and authors and teachers
   who did more than they could possibly know.
And all those friends who walked into my life 
  wherever I’ve gone.
They accepted, and affirmed and did not judge—
  they let me be--most days.

On this Thanksgiving Day
The room is filled with faces.
Dating her under a harvest day...
  seeing her walk down that aisle.
And children—my two red-heads
  and my two grand girls.
And so many more too.
The old book is right.
On this Thanksgiving Day 
The room is filled with faces.

(I wrote this blog piece a couple of years ago. It still expresses how I feel about so much and so many.                Thanks..Thanks. Thanks.)