October 2007 ARCHIVE
Gospel Music

What happened is this. The television was blaring, the dogs were sleeping, and I was sitting in front of my computer staring out the window. The computer screen glowered.

Life has returned me to my foundations…and still, many times from foreign places. In faraway places, I am reminded of home. I notice that mostly, our differences are only similarities.

I require these distractions because, as a divorced mother, I spent many years and evenings writing articles while in the background my children watched television or took down the house in their music. I learned to write surrounded with noise and distractions. Yet, hours can go by without noticing what is on the television or the noise.

Each month, as deadlines approach, I am forced to think, to give thought almost every hour of each disappearing day for a column topic. In the in-between times, when the column is finished, I have been known not to think at all.

Focusing on one subject from the depths of this dense mind is like running a monthly marathon. And as my friends know, I would never run — unless I am being chased. One this late evening, I couldn’t write two agreeable paragraphs. I was stuck like a bug on a strip of flypaper.

Out of my eye, I caught the flash of golden robes as the members of the choir filed into place. They began to sing from the television screen.

“I’m gonna put on my long white robe, down by the riverside, down by the riverside, down by the riverside. Gonna study war no more.”

I stopped typing. Leaned on my elbows. They were calling to me. I turned my attention to the screen thinking. “I have to stop thinking and pay attention now. This is where God enters.”

Gospel music speaks to my soul, like pinto beans, potato salad, and fried chicken. It is deep in my roots like spring wisteria, gathering at harvest time; and Carolina red dirt.

Gospel Music is the sound of the world when I was a child and the faith I was taught while sitting between my parents, Richard Franklin and Josephine Link Rozzelle. I learned the Golden Rule in my youth to the sounds of music.

There are so many things Southern that were so wrong. Yet, there are things Southern that are so right that they should not be forgotten or overlooked. Even though, our region is stained with a bloody history. It is not just a place of bad and ungodly history. Maybe this history is what drives southerners to study humanity very closely.

In the south, we were once born to the dirt for our existence. We are told stories lying in the crib, standing in line, and at funerals. We love to sing to tell stories, and to laugh, most times, at ourselves.

As I listened to the televised choir, I recalled the time I first spoke in public. I was to give the eulogy at the funeral of a dear beloved friend, Janie McGee Clemons. I was scared to death. No, I was terrified. It has been many years past since I have answered a question out loud — in a classroom.

As I took a seat, I noticed to my horror that the only microphone was on the podium where the minister was speaking. He stood in front of the choir. All, the way down that long aisle; I was praying to do well. However, I never expected such a heavenly response.

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