Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Old Man's Prayer

Mattie Lee Martin taught me many things. She was my dearest friend for many years. She was my mentor and my teacher. I did not see the color of her skin. To me she was love.

So, when I became a teacher, I saw no difference between my black children and my white children. What I saw was many children who could not read. That motivated me to get into politics and run for the school board.

Because I did so, I was privileged to view the power of simple faith.

My husband and I both come from privileged homes. When I ventured into politics driven by what I had seen in my classes, we were told that white politicians were encouraged to go into the Black community to attend the prayer breakfast that rotated from church to church. We did so and were warmly welcomed.

My husband and I are still moved by the prayer that morning. An old white-haired gentleman, wearing a well-worn, shiny black suit, cane hanging on the back of his chair, folded his calloused hands and closed his cloudy eyes. "Lord," he said. "Thank you that I opened my eyes this morning. Thank you that I could see this beautiful world. Thank you that I could sit up. Thank you that I could put my feets to the floor. Thank you that I had shoes to put on my feets. Thank you that I could stand. Thank you that I have warm clothes to wear here to your house. Thank you that I have food to eat. And friends to eat it with. Thank you for Jesus. Amen."

Sometimes it is a good thing to be called to recall what is really important. That prayer puts everything into perspective.

By the way, I lost. But I still benefit from having run, because I will never forget the lesson taught me in that church.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

John Wesley on Elections

It was All Saints Sunday at the Methodist church today. In the bulletin, Pastor Jim Sanders reminded us: "John Wesley wrote in his journal on Thursday, Oct. 6, 1774: I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against 3. And, to take care that their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side."

I am afraid that as the result of some actions and words these days our Lord would say, "I never knew you," as the result of the venom and vituperation spewed by folks who call themselves by His name. I know the first thing I learned in my Presbyterian catechism was "God is Love." Sadly, that is something that seems sorely missing in politics today. Unfortunately, our political face is often the only witness some folks have of religion.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

William Augustus Bowles

William Augustus Bowles
If I were to cast my novel, Swimming with Serpents, Alec Baldwin would play William Augustus Bowles. Bowles is a very good example of how we just do not know when we begin life how or where our lives will wind up. Bowles began his life in a home of privilege in Maryland. One of his descendants, Dale Cox, writes about him on his website: