Sunday, July 21, 2013


Eight days to go . . .

The basics: These were the girls' boarding school years.  Grades 7-9 with the Ursuline nuns in Ohio and grades 10-12 at Northfield, one of the schools founded by evangelist D.L. Moody in Massachusetts.  No stereotyping allowed! Those were the places in which I gained a grounding in religion that was open-minded, progressive, and scholarly.  The Catholics were just blossoming forth from Vatican II and the Protestants were heavily influenced by Tillich and the social justice movement.  Once I got to Northfield, I seldom went home anymore; I spent my spring breaks in Florida with my grandparents and my summers doing a mother's helper gig for a family on Cape Cod.  Those were influential but impressively unproductive years; I was a terrible student and my extra-curricular activities were unbloggable.

Key phrase: "You are wasting your potential."

Best memories:  Oh, most of those are unbloggable, too.  But there was the music at Northfield, which had an incredible choral program.  Even those of us who otherwise did little more than tunelessly hum Beatles' and Joni Mitchell songs had to participate. 
Spring 1970 Sacred Concert, dedicated to Kent State.  Many of us would probably agree that singing the David Stanley York arrangement of "Once to Every Man and Nation" was one of the defining moments of our lives.  It's completely different from the jaunty version found in most hymnals and was powerfully appropriate to that period in our national history.

And, amazingly, I've finally found a recording online ~ from a Presbyterian church in Dayton, of all places.  You have to scroll about two-thirds of the way down the page to 9.5.10 and then click on the title.  I would suggest turning the volume way up and imagining the young voices of 1200 idealistic high school students accompanied by an orchestra on a sunny spring day in western Massachusetts at the height of the Vietnam War.

A little reflection: One of the things one asks at 60 is how on earth she got to be who and where she is.  I did not, at the age of sixteen that afternoon at Northfield, believe for one minute that there was a God standing within the shadow keeping watch above anyone at all. 
But everything was in place, wasn't it?  Immersion in the beauty of creation, from rural Ohio to the Atlantic coastline to the foothills of the Berkshires;  a family's terrible suffering; a demanding religious and musical education ~ and a relentlessly skeptical but still hopeful mind and heart. 
One could possibly even believe that God engineered all of this.

Here are the James Russell Lowell lyrics as adapted if you want to listen and read what you're hearing:

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;

By the light of burning martyrs, Jesus' bleeding feet I track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
Truth forever on the scaffold, and forever on the throne;

Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.


  1. As I get older I know of more folk who didn't reach the year I hope to celebrate. I am celebrating 50 like I have never celebrated a birthday before. I am throwing a jazz concert and inviting many a friend. Something else is brewing as well. I hope to see 60 and hope to be dang happy to be alive. We will see. Till then I guess I will let it unfold.

    1. I hope 50 is every bit as outrageously wonderful as you hope!

  2. This series is some of the most powerful writing of your's I've read, Robin. Thank you...

  3. I agree with Rosa...I am so enjoying these chapters...and love the quotes you've chosen-so precisely appropriate. Carry on!

    1. I'm glad you're not about to expire of boredom.

  4. Robin, I'm enjoying these posts so much. I identify with the exposure to different expressions of the Christian faith that you have experienced along the way. So much has gone into the amazing person whom you are today. Thank you for allowing us to journey with you.