St. Paul’s Episcopal Church | Louisburg, NC | November 20, 2022 Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable...
North Carolina has 100 Counties. My home of Gates County is the 98th poorest, and I grew up in its county seat: Gatesville. This town has 250 residents. I knew all the residents and they all knew me. I was raised by a father Bill who was a truck driver, a house painter, and a furniture re-finisher, and a mother Eleanor who was a hospital dietitian and a social worker. One grandmother Addie taught me to sew and cook, while my other grandmother Camilla taught me to speak up in public and persevere through loss in my life.
I am a physically big guy. I entered college on an art scholarship and a football scholarship, an odd combination. A dear friend of mine recently described me as a poet in a linebacker's body. I like that.
A spiritual component of my life has always walked with me. I resonate with the spiritual "How you treat the least of these is how you treat me." Several years ago I played the lead role of Jesus in a production of Godspell. Over the last four years I offered over a dozen sermons to the congregation of St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Louisburg, NC. One of those sermons lead me to ponder the advantages given to me as a white man in the South. I carefully question these ideas and objects which hold authority over us. One of them being the Confederate Monument which stands in the middle of our campus at Louisburg College. You will find these thoughts in my Sermon of Oct. 15, 2017.
The Sacred and the Secular meet in a broad interface for me. My recent reflections surround an African story in which the children were asked by an elder, the Shaman of the village, "When does night turn into day?" To which the children respond, "When you can tell if the tree you are looking at is a palm tree or an olive tree," and "When you can tell if the animal that is walking toward you is a goat or a dog?" The elder says "No, no my child," and then whispers, "Night turns into day when you look into the eyes of another person and you see yourself." I cast my net widely as I write these homilies. I try and realize that I am like water. I find the low places, and settle there as long as I am needed.
An interview with Ira Harris - The first African American student to attend a desegregated school in Franklin County.
An interview with Grace Stafford - one of the first white teachers to teach at an African American school in Franklin County.