Around this block we gather from many other beloved places. That’s the secret.

Maybe my sixth birthday?  Like my cowboy jacket? I LOVED it. Birthday 69 was good, too.

Last week marked the beginning of my seventieth circle around the sun most of which have been spent in Mississippi, Atlanta, and East Tennessee.  It was a week of terrifying wildfires in East Tennessee very close to where we lived for ten years. You’ve heard about the conflagration in and around Gatlinburg?   Blount County is the next county over and as you see below,  there was a thousand-acre fire set on purpose  – maybe kids fooling around, maybe an arsonist- right behind Walland Elementary School on a beautiful little winding, wild-flower meadowed road. In my years of living close to  these mountains  I never ever imagined this destruction, though wildfires and arson are certainly not unknown in that world.  God bless all the people and beasts and flora.

Dear God. See the deer sheltering from the blazes in the Little River?

Our cabin, which we built and loved, is three miles past the Walland School down East Miller’s Cove. We sold it a few years ago but this screen porch especially is still  in my heart and comes to All Saints’ with me.

See Carroll and the cat?  Flash was not part of our pack yet.

Our beloved  neighborhood “block” up in East Tennessee was Chilhowee Mountain, really a forty-mile long and narrow ridge in the foothills. Looking over toward the Great Smoky Mountains, this is what we would see from our cabin.

The Great Smoky Mountains are the world’s largest temperate rain forest, but it didn’t rain this year. Water is rising in places it shouldn’t (beaches) and is MIA where it should be.

All Saints’ Earth Stewards are good at reminding us of the need to care for our creation. You would be very welcome to join them, and certainly we need to listen a lot more because, when a place you love is endangered, it hurts all of us around this block, and really all around the world.  Our blocks are so so so interconnected.

Back to last week being the beginning of my seventieth circle around the sun.  I had three birthday parties with so much territory to cover, so many years!  And so many beloved blocks to remember.

First  another all girl birthday party just like my six year old one.

Cousins and Saints Ann Pearce, Sue Mobley, and Sister-in-love, Helen Anderson. (Helen IS a saint but she deserted us and went Presbyterian.)  I got rings, FO, and a neckid dog.

And see how beautifully interconnected our block is?

Look beyond our friends to our block—Covenant Community is closest, then on and on.

And here’s my other (surprise)  party to which I was late because of the Varsity Party. And I am not even a Party Animal! I love these people—the gifts of them, the heart of them, the goofiness of them!  Note that the priests and a couple of other folks aren’t there.  That’s surely  because they are off doing good works!  We saved them so cake.  Your new rector is a lucky duck.  The people and staff around this block – gift, gift, gift, gift.

Is this a rogues’ gallery or WHAT?

We had one more party for supper – kids, grandkids, dogs – at our daughter’s place but we didn’t take any pictures because Flash barked his head off (who knows why?) and we forgot.  The other two dogs were angelic, and it was a great gathering, too!  So instead of a picture of that party, here is a picture of Flash and Carroll with whom I almost always begin and end my days.  They are heading to the elevator to  go down 28 floors and take care of business somewhere around our block.  I guarantee Carroll has a plastic bag in his pocket because he always does unto others as he would have them do unto him.  Flash doesn’t care.

Flash is not a great dog, but he is our dog.

Thank you for letting me spend my seventieth rotation around the sun with you on our beloved block of Saints of truly all sorts and conditions. You know the saying, we are only separated from anyone anywhere around the world by six people?  Six degrees of separation!  Please pray with me that we may connect with person after person,  block after block after block, all around this city and this state and this country and God’s world with our hopes and needs  (we are not the always gifted ones) and our compassion and  receptivity.

Here’s one last pic of another of my favorite blocks, Roseland, our family’s farm outside of Natchez … many, many block residents—cousins, critters, etc. and stories for another day.

Caddie is quite the joker. Spoiled rotten just like Flash.  Is there a common element?

God bless your blocks. Bring them to church with you.

Martha +













3 thoughts on “Around this block we gather from many other beloved places. That’s the secret.

  1. My mother’s people were from East Tennessee and some of my father’s from western North Carolina, so I have always had Appalachia and the Smokies in my soul. I hope those deer standing in the river survived.
    And, by the way, Rilke is one my favorites, too.
    Blessings, Robert Higdon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Martha, you are the best!!! Love your words of wisdom and am thankful we have you back at All Saints’! BTW, loved your words at Earnie Curtis’ funeral…was very special and I know the family enjoyed hearing how you put all their thoughts together. Happy, happy birthday! Here’s to many more!

    Liked by 1 person

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