Tag Archives: Moses Hogan


istock000000032072smallSeems like there are a lot of hurting people tonight. Post after post seems to pop up and weep into my thoughts. When this type of weeping tarts within my own life, I often turn to poetry, spirituals, or the Bible. Each of them bring a different picutre – a solidarity of thought – that I am not alone in my pain or sadness. There are others who have felt this same thing, tripped over the same rock, bled from similar ouchies. These testing periods are never fun.

Maybe it is just me, but some of the strongest poems are those that are written from that pain-filled experience. The images take on a poignancy that reaches beyond the physical and into the various depths that we share with no one except Those who keep watch over us. I love the image of this stanza: “…my windows ache.”

.”…so I wait for you like a lonely house29865221
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache.”~Pablo Neruda (Sonnet LXV)

Spirituals sing me to sleep even now. My mother started me on this path long ago. She worked during the day, so she would do housework at night. As I did my homework or curled in bed reading a book after she heard my prayers, I would often hear her singing spirituals. In 2005 when she “tripped the light fantastic” and went to dance with my father, I spent the summer months sitting outside, listening to Moses Hogan’s choir singing spiritual after spiritual. It was balm to my deepest pain. I had become an orphan.

images (2)“Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way is from home
A long way is from home
Do believe us, A long ways from home
A long ways from home”

The Bible is the place I go not only during rough times but also during happy times. My father battled heart disease from the time I was 10 to the ripe ol’ age of 19 when he finally hugged me for the last time. During those years, I often fell asleep with the Bible in my arms as I cried and feared that my daddy might die all too soon. I still read the letter he wrote me while I was in college. In it, he quoted the Gen 1:3

“God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light”

He then went on to write…”and believe it or not, most of that light came from a child…” That quote made a huge impression on me. I wanted to know the Light he talked about in that letter. I still want to know that Light, so I keep clinging to the Bible.

So if you are on a bumpy road right now, maybe some of these things might help you find the Light for your own path. Blessings!Be!

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A Living Epitaph

A Living Epitaph – sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it?

Death surrounds us.  We lose family, friends, acquaintances, loved ones, pets, co-workers, even celebrities (those people we don’t really “know”, but are somehow a part of our life), and in my case…sadly, former students.  Just a part of life throughout our journey upon this muddy sphere of life.  Our periods of mourning varies depending on the person and their personality.  For me, cutting my hair, music, crying buckets upon buckets of tears, building a memorial, and spiritual introspection all seem to be part of my mourning process.  Don’t ask me why, it is just me.  Maybe it is also why I am fascinated by epitaphs – although there is nothing special on our own family stones.  

George Washington:  (1732-1799) – Looking into the portals of eternity teaches That the Brotherhood of Man is Inspired by God’s WORD; Then all prejudice of race vanishes away. 

I tend to think that music is the Light that is always in my transitory hallway of mourning.  It echoes down that darken space where the lights are almost non-existent and scary shadows stretch up the walls.  It beckons me forward when I really don’t want to move.  If I listen, it encourages my steps, inch-by-tiny inch. Its harmonies, melodies, accompaniments, harmonic overtones, dissonances waft around me until I am ready to open a new door in my life and walk through.  When my father died, I filled my life with classical music.  Requiems – masses – in particular, the B-Minor Mass by Bach and Bernstein’s Mass.  My college choir sang the B-Minor Mass  just a few months after Daddy died and “Simple Song” from Bernstein’s Mass resonated in my soul constantly – and still does.   I spent a long time in that hallway before my steps reached the right door to open.  Many years later, that transitory hallway appeared again when my mother died.  This time it was filled with spirituals…specifically the recordings of Moses Hogan choirs: Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot and Gonna Ride.  It was a shorter hallway for some reason, but still a very dark one.

Benjamin Franklin: (1706-90) – The body of B. Franklin, Printer, Like the cover of an old book Its contents torn out, And stripped of its  lettering and gilding, Lies here, food for worms. But the work shall not be wholly lost, For it will, as he believed, appear once more, In a new and more perfect edition, Corrected and amended. By the Author. 

Since the time my father walked me through my first graveyard and pointed out special family markers, looking at tombstones have always been fascinating to me.  Walking through old, old cemeteries is always one of my favorite things to do. Especially taking the time to read the Epitaphs.  Epitaphs are a way of summing up a person’s life.  Some of the great ones are written by the deceased before their passing.  Some are blank.  Some are short.  Some are erased by weathering over the decades.  Now there are even pictures and computer chips that can be activated by cell-phones. Epitaphs are as varied as the people that walk upon this earth.

Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior: (1929-1968) – Free at Last, Free at Last Thank God Almighty I’m Free at Last. 

I watched a movie this weekend.  In it the protagonist was challenged to change his life.  In the climax, the protagonists sits in a graveyard and writes two lists.  One was a list of lies that he has always believed; the other, a list of truths that he has found to be true.  He buries the lies and then writes a living epitaph for himself using those truths as a guide.  Those three words stuck with me all weekend.  A Living Epitaph: a sentence that describes who we want to be from here on out. We don’t have to wait till we die before we are “free” or “re-written” or “inspired”.  Because of Grace, we can be all of these things today.  We can bury the “lies” we believed about ourselves and become  – A Living Epitaph.  It is just a simple action of opening up the door and walking into the Light.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” Jn 11:25