Sense Change

“Where I’m From”
George Ella Lyon

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded —
leaf-fall from the family tree.

This week, Young Harris College, holds it inaugural celebration of Appalachia. Called Festival Appalachia, the celebration marks an intentional effort by the college to reflect on the impact its location has upon its character and the people who have made and continue to make the institution such a distinct place. As an incarnational people, attention to place and its people seems only natural to me.

Digging our hands deep into the soil of this place to turn over the deposits of the past, making us ready for our future, The Office of Religious Life will share in this celebration and exploration, principally, through song. On Wednesday night in chapel, we will sing. Through the instruction of Bill Fox, we will attempt shape note singing. A traditional method for singing in the mountains of Appalachia, shape note singing’s distinctive tones have resonated through these valleys for generations. Like vibrations from the past, we hope to incarnate these hymns of promise and praise in this week’s chapel service.

Have a wonderful start to the week. Attend as many of the Festival Appalachia events as you are able. While you are at it, consider the import of the following passage of scripture relative to celebrating a place and honoring a people as an essential exercise of our faith:

“‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them . . .’” (Revelation 21:3b)


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