Saturday, March 24, 2018

Dawn's early light

Dawn slowly creeping
round the blinds, soft enlighting
Gently awaking.

So may it be with light and Light.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Late March

I was able to get in a couple of hours of gardening on St. Pat's day.  So much to be done before gardening begins, but the season is upon me.  No chance to work at it again the last day of March, weather permitting.  Too late for an early garden.



Tuesday, January 30, 2018

“68 Changed My View of the World”

My local newspaper, the Knoxville News-Sentinel is running a year-long series, “1968 – The Year that Transformed a Nation.” As I read the first installment today, I couldn't help but reflect on my 1968. I turned 16 in January, 1968. I was going to high school in an all-white, racially segregated school in a small-town in the Mississippi Delta. We had moved to the near-by town in hopes of a better and more stable school system during the uncertainty of desegregation. My home county had been one of the epicenters of the civil-rights movement in the south. We were the home-town of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer. I didn't know much about her at the time, but my parents did. They did their best to shelter me from what was happening all around us, but even with our limited access to national news, I knew enough. I began that year as a more-or-less obedient child of my conventional parents.

I grew up on a Delta cotton farm. We weren't quite big enough to be called a plantation. My family's farm (the Place, in local parlance), was established in the 1920's, long after the era of slavery. However, the farm system in the 1960's still held black people, coloreds as we said then, in virtual bondage. I was not brought up to look down on people, but rather to extend them Christian charity. The families who lived on our Place were treated with respect and we maintained an attitude of “noblese oblige” in their regard. However, they were not considered to be socially or intellectually as our equal.

The events of 1968 made me call into question long-held assumptions: the government knows more that we do and they must be acting in our national interest; the state knows best in regard to social norms such as integration; the Church is acting in the spirit of Jesus.

At the beginning of 1968, the body count in Vietnam was on the nightly news. How could we anything but victorious when the reports were thousands of Viet Cong killed and only hundreds of American boys? The war protestors were surely unpatriotic and even furthuring the cause of the enemy. I accepted it all without reflection. My father was cynical about the war, but he was certainly no pacifist. I don't remember my mother expressing an opinion, even though she was a very intelligent and opinionated in other areas.

At the beginning of 1968, integration of schools was the most imminent threat to my way of life. In my area, colored (blacks, African-Americans) were in the majority. Integration of schools would lead to black and white mixing as social equals. We were instructed as to how we must behave if a few blacks actually attended our schools. We were to simply ignore them, as if they did not exist in our white world. I did that in 1968. I blush today with shame to admit it. I had no real notion of what was happening in the adult world behind the scenes, of the threats to black families, their jobs, their very lives, if they dared send their children to “our schools.” I knew there were "COFO" workers in our community - young white activists living with black families. It was a shocking thought at the time.

At the beginning of 1968, I was an active member of my local Baptist church, part of the youth group, and serious about being a “good Christian.”

By the end of 1968, I still had no clue about the war. It didn't seem right to me, but the extreme anti-war activists and the “radical” Eugene McCarthy did not resonate with me. I simple did not have enough information to process it. I didn't know anyone who was against the war, although I didn't know anyone who supported it either. In Mississippi, civil rights was our front and center issue, not the war.

By the end of 1968, so much had happened, so much that my well-meaning parents could not shield from me - murder, assassination, riots, political convention tragedy. None of it fit in with my neat Christian belief. When our church ushers stood in the door ready to block any blacks from entry, I knew that we had it wrong. All around me, events and attitudes were completely counter to the Christian values that I had been taught. I knew that I could not longer accept the dichotomy between belief and action. I knew that I would never be the same.

Yet still, I wanted to be a cheerleader and go out with my boyfriend and have sleep-overs with my girlfriends. I really didn't want my life to change in the ways that it must. I wanted to believe that my parents were on the side of right and that my church was not corrupt. At the end of 1968, I still had a little time, but not much, to be a child. My view of the world had changed.

Written on January 21, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018


As I finished my yoga routine this morning, the sun broke through the morning fog and poured down on my face and body. I was blinded by the power of the light and warmed by its energy. I felt immediately blessed. I had encountered light earlier this morning in the words of Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only LIGHT can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only LOVE can do that.”

I began to recall scriptures that I learned in my youth and then look for more references:

Isaiah 60: 1 Arise! Shine! Your LIGHT has come; the LORD's glory has shone upon you.

John 1:3-5 “Everything that came into being though the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the LIGHT for all people. The LIGHT shines in the darkness and the darness doesn't extinguish the LIGHT.

Psalm 119: 105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a LIGHT on my path.”

Matthew 4: 16 The people living in darkness have seen a great LIGHT on those living in the land of the shadow of death a LIGHT has dawned.”

John 8:12 Jesus spoke to the people again, saying, "I am the LIGHT of the world. Whoever follows me won't walk in darkness but will have the LIGHT OF LIFE."

I John 1 5-7: This is the message that we have heard from him and announce to you: "GOD IS LIGHT and there is no darkness in him at all." If we claim, "We have fellowship with him," and live in the darkness, we are lying and do not act truthfully. But if we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. 

Matthew 5:14-16 You are the LIGHT of the world. A city on top of a hill can't be hidden. Neither to people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your LIGHT shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.

I Peter 2: 9 "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are God's own possession. You have become this people so that you may speak of the wonderful acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing LIGHT."

Light is Hope
Light is Love
Light is Life
Light is God

Receive the Light
Live in the Light
Share the Light

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge

Meet my new friends from Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. The formerly endangered Sandhill Cranes gather there by the thousands every winter. This year a few came up close and personal. We migrate there every winter to visit them. The water was very low this year, as was the diversity of species. In the far distance, from the Cherokee Removal Park, I spotted a flock of white pelicans. They were too far away to get a good id, even with my spotting scope. 

I think these are a flock of white pelicans seen from the Cherokee Removal Park viewing area.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

We Endure

On this last day of the year, as I reflect on 2017, I see in this year the rise of the woman's voice. Beginning with the Woman's March in January, continuing through the state and local elections, where woman candidates and the vote of women changed the electoral landscape, and continuing through the #MeToo movement of the fall, women have stood strong and made their voice heard.

As I think about women I know, that I have known, and that are part of my personal history, I realize that a woman's strength has also been in her ability to endure, to stand fast in the face of adversity, to overcome by her faithfulness in the everyday tasks of making a life. The following is offered to women who endure.

We endure.
It's what we do,
We women.
We endure

Men can walk away,
Children don't understand,
But we women,
We endure.

Life and love,
Childbirth and heartbreak, 
First steps and last breaths.
We embrace it all.

It's what we do.
What else is there?
We women,
We endure.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

An UnCivil War

In early December, Bill and I visited Anna and Jake, and Heather, Jarrett, Jackson and Felicity.  We enjoyed family time and getting to know our great-nephew and niece.

We also spent some time at the Manassas Battlefield National Park and on the way home, we visited Appomattox Court House. We saw the beginning of the Civil War at Manassas and the end at Appomattox.

An UnCivil War
From the first battle to the last gasp,
From Manassas to Appomattox.
Brave soldiers died,
Six hundred thousand and more.
The South won the battles, but lost the war.
They stood “like a stone wall” in defense
of a cause doomed from its conception.
Justice, freedom and union prevailed.
If they will still prevail,
There can be no rest in their defense today.

Manassas - the beginning

The First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) was fought in July, 1861.
It was the first major battle of the Civil War.
The Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) was fought in August, 1862.

The Confederate victory emboldened Lee to push north, on a path that led to Gettysburg.

Henry House

Elderly Judith Carter Henry was the first and only civilian casualty of the First Battle of Manassas. She refused to evacuate and she, her daughter and their servant were caught in the battle as shells hit their house. She died from injuries sustained when the house was shelled.
Throughout both First and Second Manasses, battles raged around Henry Hill.
A monument to all those killed in the battle was placed behind the house.  

Stone House, near Henry House

Cannon pointed toward Henry House

General Thomas Jackson's courageous defense rallied the Confederate troops,

turning the tide of battle in their favor. He earned the name “Stonewall Jackson” at First Manassas.    

Stonewall Jackson

Peaceful fields, trails and fences recall how the battlefields must have looked before the war.

From the Confederate victory at the First Battle of Manasses in July 1861 the Civil War would continue for four more years, costing hundreds of thousands of lives.
It finally ended for Lee and the South at the Battle of Appomattox Court House. Terms of surrender were signed at the McLean House.
Family lore places Aulcie Crawford Jackson at the battle and
witness to a meeting between Grant and Lee.

A.C. Jackson → Anna Jackson Renshaw → Mozelle Renshaw Whitaker → William Robert Whitaker

Apomattox Court House

McLean House at Appomattox - the end.