It’s hard to say when I started writing or making music—I just always have. And I have always read books (except for a very few years in the beginning). These three things—writing, music, and books are significant realities for me.
It’s also interesting how things merge and weave together—one into another.
As an English Literature major at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, I worked for the Butler student newspaper, and took any writing courses I could.
It wasn’t until I had four children (and was already writing down the clever things they said and did) that it occurred to me to write for specific publications. I wrote primarily for United Methodist magazines and sometimes wrote about the intricacies of family life. There were articles like: “The Family and the Arts,” “Let Me Be Mad,” “Children Learn…and Learn…and Learn from an Allowance.”
And then I was asked to write church school curriculum, and did that for 30 years, creating stories, poems, craft projects, music around whatever scripture theme the editors required. There were times when we went camping and I brought my portable typewriter and worked as the children played around the campsite while the deadline loomed.
In my forties I went to Marymount College in Tarrytown as a music major and started to compose. As a choir director, pianist and organist I worked on making an hour of worship flow into one unit of liturgy, sermon, praise, and music.
Simultaneously I started work as a music person in a nursing home in the activities department. Getting a masters in music therapy at New York University, the music person evolved into a music therapist. I worked in that field for 13 years as I developed ways of using music with the elderly—from sing-a-long groups, to a chorus, to a Wandering Minstrel, to playing guitar and singing beside the bed of someone in a coma or close to death.
And all of that merged into being a pastor. As I tried out a new kind of writing, the bookcase in my house sprouted “Sermon Notebooks.” I served as a lay pastor in an American Baptist church for six years, and as a local pastor in a United Methodist Church for two.
In 1993 I started a writing group which I called “Writing Down the Stories of Our Lives,” and gathered six or seven people who met once a month to capture their lives, story by story. There have been several of these groups in the 17 years since 1993. People in the groups keep shifting. Groups end and begin somewhere else. One of the groups is trying out being an email group. A couple joined the original group explaining that they would only stay for a few months because their children had asked them to write about the different places they had lived. They completed that project and stayed for another four years. Another person in the group completed a memoir and his growing up years, and then wrote meditations to 78 of his paintings.
The writing, the reading, and the music will continue to go on.