Who knew that a moment, seemingly insignificant, would be indelibly imprinted for a lifetime. It was just a poem, words on paper. Yet it became a mantra of calm when frightened, energy when weakened, comfort when saddened, hope when despairing.
Twenty-one, recently married and newly settled in an apartment complex housing Fort Benning’s basic infantry officers’ fall class of 1954, life was good. We were all young, new to the active military and to each other.
For the men, most of them recent graduates of West Point, training was grueling, studies were rigorous; free time was scarce. With money almost as scarce, Saturday entertainment was a game of Canasta with two other couples. Every other Saturday, we’d pile in cars and drive to the Kinnett Dairy ice cream parlor for our really big splurge, a banana split or hot fudge sundae.
One Saturday, Bill and Loretta mentioned that a Bishop they had known in New York was serving as Interim pastor at the big Methodist Church in downtown Columbus. Their enthusiastic description of his preaching led to the spontaneous decision that we would all go to the 11 o’clock services.
It seemed as if everyone in town made the same decision. We sat on wooden folding chairs on the church lawn. After this, getting to church early each Sunday for a bulletin and a seat inside became a priority. On one of those Sundays, Bishop Cushman had printed a poem he had written as a part of the sermon.
The joy in his voice resonated with the need in my spirit for the simple wisdom which, as Robert Frost would say, “has made all the difference.” It has echoed through living in Germany, through miscarriages, through childbirth, through my grandmother’s death and never saying goodbye, through a brief television career, through 17 moves, through family illnesses and sleepless nights, through divorce, through studying in China, through success and sorrow and yes, even now in old age and the pandemic. Because….
I met God in the morning
When my day was at its best,
And His presence came like sunrise,
Like a glory in my breast.
All day long the Presence lingered,
all day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O’er a very troubled sea.
Other ships were blown and battered,
Other Ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them,
Brought to us a peace and rest.
Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind,
When I too had loosed the moorings,
With the Presence left behind.
So I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way
You must seek God in the morning
If you would have him through your day.
….Ralph Spaulding Cushman
Indeed, Bishop, it has made all the difference.
Contributed by: Barbara R. Furlow
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