My wife and I had a wonderful opportunity last Wednesday as invitees to attend Midweek at Mulberry, an event held at Mulberry United Methodist Church. Sleep had already been a problem for several weeks but after Lisa Shepard called and asked if we could come over and speak to the members and guests, I quickly got down to about three hours a night instead of the four I was getting.
I’d been standing in front of classrooms for 30 years but airing my column in front of this group was daunting. If you’ve never had the experience of speaking in front of a crowd, it’s sort of like being on a first date. Your hands sweat, you can feel your heart beating through your jacket and your tongue feels like it’s too big for your mouth. You forget how to do something you’ve done all your life and that is talk. Plus, your hands shake. So if you’re dumb enough to hold anything, which I was, the thing looks like there’s a vibrator in there somewhere with you try to find the off button.
The evening began with the singing of several revered hymns and a delicious meal consisting of baked chicken, brown rice, and the most delicious stewed tomatoes I’ve ever put in my mouth, all prepared by church staff. However, when your stomach is in your throat, digestion is difficult, so I ate sparingly. Besides, the wife and those at the table wanted to talk and that’s difficult with a mouth full of chocolate cake. And that wonderful southern iced tea. Aren’t we blessed? You know, they don’t have that up north. Try to get iced tea north of Kentucky and they look at you as though you have no teeth and can’t spell dentist. So I very much want to thank the people of Mulberry and Mrs. Shepard for their hospitality and patience as we made it through, hands shaking, mumbling and stumbling over material written but forgotten when the microphone presented itself.
There’s something scary about hearing your voice booming across a room full of school teachers, business leaders, lawyers (and you know there had to be one grammarian in there) that says any grammatical mistakes can and will be heard from the floor to the ceiling. We managed to “entertain” for about 45 minutes and survive in spite of ourselves.
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A few words about the people of Mulberry. In these times of so much upheaval in the country it was nice to be among people who are firm in their beliefs, positive thinkers and generous with their time and resources. I believe we are still a Christian nation and these people confirmed my belief. And while we see many churches reaching people through progressive music led by drums, electric guitars and modern lyrics, I still enjoy the organ and piano and those are the preferred instruments in their Sunday services. To me, as I’ve probably said before, the organ elicits thought, reflection and relaxation where the drums seem to bring out emotions. This might be a good time to thank The Telegraph also, for the opportunity to write. Without those folks the event of last Wednesday would not have taken place.
Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.