Lynn D. Morrissey is author of Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer and other books, contributor to numerous bestsellers, and is a professional journal facilitator (CJF) for her ministry Sacred Journaling, speaker, and soloist. She’s passionate about encouraging transparency in women through reflective journaling.
“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings . . .” These are a few favorite things that Maria sings about in the classic musical, The Sound of Music.
Singing is one of my favorite things, whether I caterwaul in the shower, car, grocery, or elevator, perhaps to the chagrin of captive audiences; but to choose five favorite things from among the faves-feast spread by blogger Karen Brown was nearly impossible. I have lots of favorites within categories, so to reduce them to just one, each, is usually impossible. So sometimes I’m shooting here for my most nearly favorite per grouping.
My most nearly favorite music genre is Baroque, and my most nearly favorite composer is Johann Sebastian Bach. I’m thinking that he would not have inspired Maria to traipse through the Austrian Alps while yodeling his ornate melismas, whether in cantatas or motets, because she would have had to move too quickly to keep pace and may have slipped and fallen unceremoniously on her sweet little Edelweiss. Nonetheless, the intricacy and complexity of Bach’s compositions capture my heart and set my soul soaring. I was ecstatic when I was accepted into a Bach performance group six years ago. When we sing Bach, we worship at heaven’s hem. It’s not so much a rehearsal as it is a worship service. Of all Bach’s choral compositions, perhaps my most nearly favorite is his Mass in B Minor. I’m pretty sure Bach will be playing and all Christians will be singing it in heaven on a regular basis.
Reading great literature or inspiring Christian growth or theology books inspire me as much as music. On one of Karen’s earlier GNO blogs, I shared that my favorite novel was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. It is an extraordinary Gothic novel with many profound spiritual applications. While I could share nearly most-favorite quotations from it, instead, I will share a quotation from contemporary Christian author Ken Gire, whose book on creativity, Windows of the Soul, I adore. This quiet quote is not well-known and will not be found in online sources, but its six incisive words transformed my life at a pivotal juncture.
The quote? “Casual neglect leads to catastrophic loss.” Initially, I glossed over it, but then went back and read it repeatedly and thoughtfully. Gire’s words jolted me into action. I had left an executive career at forty in order to raise our daughter, Sheridan. It was an anguished decision, because as much as I loved her, I also relished my work; still, I felt God’s clear direction to come home.
However, much to my surprise, after I left my full-time job, God led me to work part-time as a Director of Christian Education in a wonderful church. The pastor didn’t care where I worked, as long as I did, so I developed my teaching and training courses at home. It was a win-win, because I could take work breaks whenever I needed, and spend time with our daughter. A nanny watched her when I was studying or writing.
Yet over the ensuing two years, as my church responsibilities escalated, I sensed God leading me not to work professionally at all. How I wrestled. I adored Sheridan and loved raising her, yet I felt God was using my gifts and skills to serve the Body of Christ.
“Casual neglect leads to catastrophic loss.” – Ken Gire
And then, providentially, I read Gire’s line. I came to realize that even though I could spend time with Sheridan in my working-from-home situation, even the most casual “neglect,” when she spent time with the nanny instead of me, could cause the eventual, catastrophic loss of developing our relationship to the fullest possible degree. I realized time away from her could never be regained. I gave the pastor notice, and never looked back.
My now twenty-four-year-old daughter and I have a close relationship ripened not casually, but intentionally. Every moment I have spent with her is precious.
There are times that we can choose intentionally, refusing neglect. At other times, however, it is forced upon us. When I was a child, I had a best friend named Lynne. She was my favorite friend in all the world. We were heart-mates. She spelled her name with an “e” on the end and I didn’t; her skin was black, and mine was white. We separated, not through any neglect, casual or otherwise, but rather because my parents moved from the neighborhood and I was enrolled into a new school. It was impossible for us as children to make arrangements to see each other, and sadly, we never saw each other again.
But throughout the years, I thought about Lynne and lamented the loss of our friendship. I also recall having accidentally cut her hand by extending the pointy end of a pair of scissors; as a child, I didn’t know any better. She had not been badly hurt, but somehow that cut sliced deep into my own heart, and I’d always wanted to apologize.
Some fifty-four years later, I would get my chance. One day, I received a private Facebook message from an African-American women named Lynne Jackson, who claimed to have been my best friend in the third grade. I was staggered. Tearfully, I replied: “Are you Lynne Madison?!” She was, and Jackson was now her married name! It was a miracle.
More miraculous was our first meeting as adults as we sat across a café table, sharing our hearts and lives. It was uncanny how alike we were. She loved French; so did I. She loved great literature; so did I. She loved to write; so did I. She loved classical music; so did I. She played the piano and sang; so did I. She had had an executive career; so had I. She had one daughter; so did I. And most meaningful of all, she loved Jesus, and so did I! Preference by preference we matched up like lost puzzle pieces that finally interlocked, completing a beautiful, intricate picture.
Yet as Lynne and I spoke for hours, I was to learn there was far more to her picture than met the eye. As Lynne shared about her life, I discovered that God has given her a unique place in American history as the great-great granddaughter of the slave, Dred Scott, whose case before the Supreme Court and the egregious resulting Dred Scott Decision, declaring that he was not a person, was a strong catalyst to launch The American Civil War. Lynne left her career and has made it her life’s mission to perpetuate the legacy of her ancestor through The Dred Scott Heritage Foundation. Its purpose is to educate the public about the critical impact of the Dred Scott Decision upon our nation, to commemorate the struggle for freedom of Dred and Harriet Scott, and to foster racial reconciliation. I can think of no more noble cause.
As Lynne and I conversed, not only did I confess my sadness at having cut her hand as a child, but my grief over the sins of our White ancestors for the evils that they so callously perpetrated on the Black people of this nation. I honestly do not know far back into my own family’s history, whether or not they owned slaves. But surely White Americans can feel a collective grief and anguish over the atrocities of our young nation, its grotesque wounds still festering even today.
Lynne received my heartfelt apologies with great grace and generosity, as we linked hands and hearts across that café table, committed not to neglect this friendship again.
Historical note: For those who are members of my home church, Central Presbyterian in Clayton, Missouri, it will interest you to know that in the 1800s, one of our members, Peter Blow, actually owned the slave, Dred Scott. And praise God, his son, Taylor Blow, also a Central member, set him free! One of our current members, Helen Herndon, is the great-great granddaughter of William Herndon, law partner to Abraham Lincoln before he was elected as America’s sixteenth president. Herndon, a strong Abolitionist, played a pivotal role in influencing Lincoln’s stand on emancipation. It was my pleasure to introduce Lynne Jackson and Helen Herndon to each other.
L to R: Kevin Abney (Lincoln expert who works as a Research Tech for the National Archives, Helen Louise Herndon, Lynn Morrissey, Lynne Jackson), lunching at La Bonne Bouchee
I wonder if one reason something becomes our favorite is because of our commitment to it? So often we presume it is the other way around.
I think of my favorite husband, Michael. Granted, he is the only husband I have ever had, and I was attracted to him when I was but sixteen, but the longer I have shared life with him, the more I know he is my favorite person on the planet. I favor and honor him. We have experienced mostly smooth sailing, but once, during some especially tempestuous waters, a period that was definitely not our most favorite time together, it was our sheer commitment (and truth be told, his forgiveness) that held us fast. We were committed for the long haul, and to date, that spells forty-one years this November.
And honestly, what’s not to love about this guy? What I wrote in Karen’s first GNO series bears repeating here: Michael, also known by the well-deserved title, St. Michael, bestowed by my mother for gallantly putting up with me for so long, is my Renaissance man. He can do anything. He sews (he stitched my Bach Society performance dress years ago, a goose-down parka, and a hang-glider, to name a few favorite things), does house-and-car repairs and carpentry, acts as resident painter, plumber, and electrician, and is a savvy computer programmer and executive. He’s also an editor par excellence who mercilessly slashes my writing with his Exacto pen (but obviously, unfortunately for you, I’ve not let him touch this piece; hence, the length). The only thing he can’t do is sing, but he’s a great captive audience— *literally*. I force him to attend my concerts. Mostly though, he’s one of the kindest, most compassionate people I’ve ever met. He helps others at every turn. When my brother Danny was little, he exclaimed, “Michael is the best-est boy.” And he was right.
One of my favorites of Michael’s generous gestures is how he sets out my china teacup on the kitchen table each night and provides water steaming in the kettle upon my awakening. He’s also a fabulous cook, concocting delights gastronomic, from gourmet to garden variety. And when I’m a little blue or under the weather? He whips up my favorite comfort food, spoon bread. This Southern standby, a fluffy, ethereal, soufflé-like version of cornbread is, in my humble estimation, modern manna from heaven—especially if I slather it with sweet butter (which I assuredly do)! I’m the only one in the house who eats it, so being a spoon-bread connoisseur, I consider that fact pretty heavenly too.
Here’s the recipe:
Fluffy Spoon Bread – A light soufflé-type bread that is spooned onto the plate and eaten with a fork.
1 ½ cups boiling water
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3 eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 2-quart casserole. In large bowl, stir boiling water into cornmeal; to prevent lumping, continue stirring until mixture is cool. Blend in butter and egg yolks. Stir in buttermilk, salt, sugar, baking power, and baking soda.
Beat egg whites just until soft peaks form; fold into batter. Pour into greased casserole. Bake 45 to 50 minutes. Serve hot with butter.
8 to 10 servings.
Michael has a favorite food, and it’s chocolate, of any variety but white. He says that’s anemic. If you ask him, he’s only too happy to pontificate about chocolate’s nutritional value, underscoring its protein count, and bioflavonoid and antioxidant content. He’s also quick to point out that one small, eight-ounce bar of chocolate contains as much vitamin A as several trace shreds of organic carrots. Someday, I must share the infamous Illinois brownie escapade, but that, dear readers, is another tale for another time, and perhaps another GNO blog, Karen Brown permitting.
May I just close this magnum opus in verbosity by saying something I can’t say enough about: Karen Brown, GNO creator extraordinaire, is hands-down one of my all-time favorite bloggers. She writes with depth and pathos, humor and passion. She’s an eloquent wordsmith like few I know and one who writes with authenticity from her life experience, emanating from her devoted love for Christ.
PS This is Karen, here. About that last paragraph, Lynn…you are too kind! And your check’s in the mail 🙂
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