Of These My Children: My Life as a Teddy Bear

Our little private school was almost lost in the woods. Yet it was pleasantly surrounded by Miss Popcorn Goat, the mascot, and Mr. Roo Ster, the Rooler of the school. On another side was the Pizza Garden and The Chocolate Porch where 32 kinds of plants lived with frogs, birds and squirrels who enjoyed having recess all day.

Oh, and a few students came each day for the sole purpose of avoiding and resisting anything that smacked of school work. Many of them had not felt so good at their former school, so they were skeptical souls.

One day I had the best compliment I could ever have in my life! A new student sat rather shyly as his peers tried to put him at ease. A remarkable guy sitting next to him said, “It’s OK to talk around her” pointing to me (the teacher). “She doesn’t mind. She likes to know what we think. It’s kinda like talking to a Teddy Bear.” (Later that year that child brought me a teddy bear bubble necklace. Hmmm, so many reasons to smile).

My life as a Teddy Bear was busy for sure. In Social Studies we had a lesson on pollution. A child popped up with a map claiming it went with this lesson. Well, I guess some folks might think a population map helps explain pollution.

On the day when we learned about Europe one guy quickly yelled out the chapter title “Earp!” I did a double take to make sure he wasn’t about to vomit but the pleasant look on his face told me to stress the pronunciation of the continents.

We learned about customs around the world. A smart child read from the whiteboard, “They were following the customers of their ancestors.”  We all looked to catch a glimpse of who was following whom while I reiterated the concept of customs.  We did a role play of being a customer or clerk in a store, then switched to practicing customs of our ancestors and singing a Christmas song. What fun.

Another time when we read about ancestors, someone called it anteaters. An astute kid said they didn’t eat ants, they ate roots and berries. That day we learned about how the eating habits of our ancestors was different from the diets of anteaters.

Soon I wondered if I should have even brought up the subject of ancestors when a gal focused on China. She informed us that “they practiced Sister Worship.” Another child yelled, “Glad I didn’t live there! I’d never worship my sister.” I had myself some real cleaning up to do on the kids’ vocabulary that day.

Science is time for a sense of wonder. As we delves into the wonders of water, a child held up a picture in his library book of a boat. He said, “If a boat turns over it might get a cat’s eye.” Since I had just mentioned gravity, it took me a minute to realize he meant the force of gravity would make it capsize!  It’s so nice when the students can apply what they learn to real life, ahem.

Spelling and Language require the dreaded ABC order. One gal was reciting the alphabet to herself to get warmed up for alphabetizing her spelling words. Her voice was happy and musical and she got them just right–almost. When she came to PQRST she clearly said “pee ewe” and held her nose. Once again, I had some explaining to do.

That day in the classroom was finally over. I grabbed my snack and put my feet up, musing about my day. Maybe it’s time for me to consult the Teddy Bear Association about my job. How am I ever going to keep my fur smooth when the kids keep making it stand on end by their shocking renditions of the English language??!!!

Posted in Of These My Children: Infamous Sayings of Insidious Intellects – Humor, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Honeysuckle Air: Love Letter to Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church–History and Hugs

We moved from Houston  in 1972 with two young sons, determined to miss our church in Oklahoma. Soon we saw a community calendar in a local paper which said a Unitarian group was meeting on Spring Cypress. We dressed up Sunday evening, eager to connect  with people of like faith, and made the drive to a dark and empty building in Klein.

Sadly arriving at home I called the contact person mentioned in the paper and she said they had met a few weeks ago but the notice had continued by mistake.

Several weekends later we were invited to what became a supper club which met for fellowship and sharing ideas.

Yet I felt a vacuum where my children were concerned. So my younger son and I went to the First Unitarian Church in Houston for Sunday School while I continued to foster the formation of a local church. As the years passed we arranged for the minister of First Church to come to a subdivision clubhouse, volunteering on Sunday evenings to give a talk.

Before too long we became a congregation. We met at the original Interfaith location on Woodlands Parkway, long before it went very far west into The Woodlands as it currently exists. We met there for a some time.

Then we began a series of survival moves, a barn in Enchanted Oaks (where I stared our first RE with 17 kids, all ages, in one house!) Then for a while we met at a learning center on Sawdust which I ran, putting up partitions each week before the service and using the peripheral rooms for the children.

Next came The Music Rack in Klein–trading fix-up services for rent and Ponderosa Y. We engaged part time ministers Van Vanstrom and Al Judd. Finally in 1985, building this edifice partially with our own hands. I can’t claim much sweat on that but I was a part of it all, and painted the SW corner RE room alongside Mary Branson when she was pregnant with Amy.

Then I was privileged to lead the 2nd service in this building: A Date With Grief. I was going through a divorce and was writing a Grief Yearbook so I had plenty of original poems and material ready, and of course there were always musicians ready to strum out Song Sung Blue and other expressions of angst which we all go through at some point in our lives.

NUUC thrived off and on, but I found it gratifying to see it was always “there” for folks who needed a church home, or even just an accepting lagoon to rest their souls in for a bit.

One of my passions was the music program. It grew and changed, but always seemed to keep getting better. From a pitch pipe to simple guitar music we managed to include traditional, choral, folk, rock and roll, and even a flute choir! Thanks Judy Middleton, Rusty Rhoad and many others for their tireless efforts!

I also held the RE program dear to my heart and was especially proud when one of our teen gals suggested a Harry Potter-esque summer camp. So many children grew up inside these walls, having fun, sharing both good and bad times, friends, ideas and fun.

For a while I read stories to the children early in the service. Favorites were Tacky the Penguin and Love You Forever. (One of the parents passed tissues around for that last one!)

After Shirley Broussard retired from the newsletter, Larry did it for several years. We enjoyed using our newly-minted Macintosh to print out news of Northwoods. He particularly enjoyed adding graphics to make it interesting.

My hubby, Larry McLoughlin, and I also spent years keeping the kitchen going. Like most groups, people were naturally more aware of the need to eat the goodies than bring them! The crazy ones among us, myself included, loved to belt out the Adjusted Doxology “Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, Lord give us coffee” at moments of mirth here and there. Eventually a fine committee took it over–The Kitchen Angels.

The years moved on, with the Gorilla Chorus honoring the fine men in our congregation with music, mania, and even a live gorilla (the person inside the costume WAS alive:-) Then the corner room saw things made by the Ewe Ewe Knitting ministry,  busy making comfort blankets for those in need of such kindness. They were soft and wonderful!

I was especially touched with the Lay Ministry. Sharon Ossowski and a number of others kept it running over the years. When Larry started his series of hospitalizations, I became the recipient of their kindness.. There was a group of Saturday ladies, Maxine DeVries and friends, who had me email a list of needs so they could shop each weekend and keep us in food and friendship.

Larry’s favorite thing was The Lunch Bunch. We visited a wide variety of restaurants for after church chatting and fellowship. Visitors could come there and start the process of making friends and others were “regulars” who showed up regularly for the food and fun.

Such fine memories!

For a number of years we organized a shared Thanksgiving open to all. Since we wanted to include folks with no other easy options as well as those who feast with family, we set it up at 3 p.m. People who ate with others at lunch were welcomed, and people who planned to sup with family could come by and move on when needed. But most of all, people for whom this was their Thanksgiving family could stay as long as desired.

Although signups were dutifully done, there were always extra people, so we had the essentials aplenty and loads of other wonderful stuff to eat. Afterwards there were table games, dishes being done, and of course, I brought out song books for Carols and Cookies (or pies, etc.) It was an event to remember and a touching opportunity for members and friends to build fond memories of food, fun and farfetched stories and songs.

When my good friend Ann Tofft went into hospice, Kate Rhoad and a huge slew of other fine folks jumped in and helped in a million ways. Dr. ____________ even rescued me as I was about to wear out with both Ann and Larry in the hospital at once.

Then there was the Cancer Group, eventually called Chronic Illness group where we met in to rooms. Mary Chimirusti and Marci set it up and made it happen. One room was for patients and across the hall the caregivers met. Such support made me proud to be a Northwoods fan!

Eventually I realized I had my hands more than full and needed to downsize and move near family as Larry’s health demands were ever increasing. ENTER Northwoods friends yet again! Dorothy Kennedy, Cindy Mahony, Kate, Susan Blackmore, Sean Connelly, Lee Anna Loehr all pitched in wholeheartedly along with many other fantastic folks to help me reduce, donate, sell, unload and box up far less stuff to make the trip to Florida.

We’ve been here over 6 years now. Yet Northwoods is still a part of my life. Facebook and phone calls keep me up with happenings there as I hold them in my heart. Friends there  continue to uplift, entertain, and yes even grieve with me when needed.

So I guess that’s a peek into a portion of my liberal view of eternal life! Go hug a Northwoodsian, and cherish and maintain that great place in all our hearts for us and others to come.


Hildra Tague, Founder and Fan of Northwoods UU Church, The Woodlands, Texas


Copyright 2017 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.







Posted in Church Stories, Honeysuckle Air - Memoirs | Leave a comment

Meditation: Soft Voices Make Me Cry

Nothing wrong with crying. Tears cleanse the soul.

But sometimes it’s, uh, inconvenient.

I can wear the badge of courage quite well until some kind soul says a tender word, pats me on the back, gives me a hug, or makes an offer to be of assistance. Then I helplessly melt into my grief.

At that point my eyes begin to leak without my permission, and I find myself unable to speak coherently.

Sometimes I regret this for a moment, knowing I could really use a good therapeutic conversation, yet I realize these tears are here only for a season to do the work of grief and transition.

Not that I don’t have good reasons for the overflow of saline rivulets. When life’s flood level is reached the body and soul needs to release its pressure valve to rid my heart of just too much pain.

I find myself feeling cheated out of a much needed conversation. Yet I’ve finally realized that words will come in due time. Right then I mostly needed a hug and those cleansing tears.

A possible explanation is that I feel safe enough wrapped in the kindness of understanding people to let my negative feelings just leak right on out.

Being the sole caregiver for an ailing husband for 13 years did it for me. Then using up all our retirement safety net on one dreadful cancer, then another, only to discover copays can really add up and cripple a budget, affecting one’s retirement disastrously.

We plotted, and even plodded, our way through all of this only to then have my soul knocked sideways with his dementia diagnosis.

Actually, I suspected dementia long before the official test results. It took me a few years to look it in the eye. But eventually it knocked on the door of my life till I had to face it.

Back to those tears, I have cried enough to make a river. Yet I notice, with each new challenge, for my emotions, I eventually get rid of enough of those dang droplets that I’m ready to slide right over into problem solving. (For most of my adult life, my motto during troubles was to get myself into the cognitive. Little did I realize there was sometimes a grotto to traverse to reach the thinking stage.)

That’s when problem-solving starts. Maybe the tears are lubricating the way so I can scooch over into yet another phase of my long and wonderful life.

One can note that this is different from being stuck in the weeping stage of a grief. These particular  tears seem to meet two needs: 1) Pave the way for moving on, and 2) Drain off the overflow of stress so there’s room in my eyes for clear assessment of my current reality.

So I seem to have learned to lean into the kindness and just let my feelings roll. The next time I see that friend I’ll be ready for the use of words.

This process reminds me of when I used to make homemade jellies. One must boil the scum off, removing it completely, before the reward of a crystal clear jelly remains. If that step is skipped or not done thoroughly, the jelly is compromised. So it is with life.

So if you see me, feel free to be your own kind self. Don’t hold back for fear of making me cry. When I’m through crying, we’ll both notice.

Cause then you’ll find me singing along or telling a joke, or yelling out in delight the same way my midget grandma used to do:-)

Maybe another day I’ll return the favor and help you cry.

See you around, tears and all.


Copyright 2017 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.


Posted in Deep Breathing Moments: Meditations for the Unpremeditated, Grief Tearbook, Matters of the Heart: Grief and Other Feelings | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Honeysuckle Air: Happy Graduation to Kind Princess Boss Becca

I remember Princess Becca. A smart dresser even then. When we took a picture she turned and quipped “Again” so somehow we knew she’d be her very own kind of royalty.

Then I saw a sensitive side when Grandpa Mac was so very sick with a dreadful cancer and she patiently sat (across the room due to his low immunity) and talked quietly yet clearly to him about his hospitalizations, and life. She listened well since his voice was almost gone. What a caring person!

One year she taught us what she learned in Music Appreciation. She and the other grandkids could identify many of my favorite pieces. I was so impressed.

There were so many good times: taking a nature walk on the property in Colorado, returning home to play in the driveway, sharing Easter carrots, fun at the beach, playing at our house when we couldn’t travel, enjoying my magic stuff and whatnots, then “camping out” on futons on the floor. She decorated the room with her smiles.

From a barefoot scholar to a Facebook friend, I saw a student of science, history, and knowledge in general, as well as a well-rounded person who relished friends.

Then one year, after a walk around to see plants she knew I’d love and spending some time scrolling through pictures, she shared with me how she poured out her heart in poetry. I was honored as another poet to read her words and catch a glimpse of her soul.

Yup, there goes Boss Becca, to graduation and beyond! It has been my grandmother’s pleasure and honor to watch her grow up into a fine young woman.

As graduation came and went, I had to stay home and help Grandpa Mac as he was having lots of falls due to complications of his diagnosis. Now I send my words of love and hope to my dear Becca:-)

Please remember to wear your wisdom daily. Keep your mind open to knowledge, caring and understanding of others. Listen to many but mostly to yourself. Be willing to say no and make your own choices, knowing they may follow you around forever.

Most of all, hold yourself dear and cherish your worth for this is how you will teach people to cherish you , themselves, and others.

Be careful out there. Life can be hard. Always know your worth. Think before you respond. Be cautious with money yet generous with kindness.

Love you forever,

Hildra Tague, your very own Grandma Without the Goat, Summer of 2017


Copyright 2017 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.

Posted in Holidays & Celebrations including Christmas Sparkles, Honeysuckle Air - Memoirs | Leave a comment

Honeysuckle Air: Holding Foot

I am probably not the only wife who was born with cold feet.

After our marriage had settled into decades, there were times we went to bed only because we were tired and longed for sleep.

Yet our mutual fondness declared some expression of love was necessary to settling down for a “long winter’s nap” as they say.

One such night our toes touched and my toes which are always cold discovered the warmth to be found there.  After a bit of giggling with him declaring how cold my feet were, and me relishing his “hot feet” we settled into the night’s rest with our toes still touching.

This toe fondling became a habit of sweetness and snuggling after a hard day’s work. When one of us was a little late to climb into bed the other would bemoan the lack of a foot to hold.

Eventually it evolved into the term “holding foot” which we always said with a bit of a grin. Since it bore all the tender landmarks of holding hands, we found it to be a vital part of our time together, especially when we were tired. It supplied to us the same gentle thrill as holding hands does. We enjoyed the idea that we could drift off to sleep while holding feet.

As the tradition continued, we began to realize that whatever didn’t hurt with aging issues could be held in fondness and comfort. Due to his severe peripheral neuropathy, what got held could vary from day to day. Sometimes hands, sometimes feet.

The people in the place we retired to in South Florida began to refer to us as the “couple who holds hands” since we usually held hands when we were out and about.

As arthritis and other issues of aging began to enter our lives, we began to appreciate the fact that we had an alternate closeness we could enjoy when our hands were off duty due to pain or sensitivity.

It can serve as a reminder to us all that whatever works is good in a relationship. Hold hands, hold feet, but don’t hold your breath too long as you get older.

Copyright 2017 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.





Posted in Deep Breathing Moments: Meditations for the Unpremeditated, Honeysuckle Air - Memoirs, Savor Our Seniors to Grow Bold Along With Me – The Rest is Yet to Come | Leave a comment

Teardrops for My Country: Repeal and Replace?!

Sing as Introduction:

One morning I had an inspiration.

I think it will last me all year long.

It came out of my exasperation.

That things seem to be so very wrong.


Repeal and Replace a congressman’s face.

Rejecting diversity; ignoring adversity.

Reeling in the votes while trampling on the voters.

Remember protection is in the next election!


Verse 1:

Repeal and Replace: 

Remind the poor to just save more! (how, save what, the grocery money?)

Regarding older folks, just wait for Medicare (so sit and be patient during your heart attack).

Rewarding bad behavior with tax breaks for the rich; they need our help.

Remember I have Teardrops for My Country! (It might get worse, can I borrow a hearse?) (as I drip my red, white and blue necklace)

Repeal and Replace:


Raunchiness towards women.

Reallocation of wealth (movin’ them dollars upstream!)

Rejection of so many Americans (What would Reagan say?

Poor Lincoln, rollin’ rollin’ rollin in his grave) * arm circles *

Repeal and Replace:

Rehab slipping away from opioid areas.

Restraining children while their parents are taken


Refusal to care for our citizens! (Ever thought of fixing it? Here come the midterms!)

Fix it. Fix it. Fix it.

Repeal and Replace:

Refusing to see the suffering.

Resting at night while many live in fright.

Repeating alternate facts. (Your microwave is watching you!)

Ruining the Reputation of America! (Just sayin’ Wash out your ears with hope!)


Repeal and Replace a congressman’s face.

Rejecting diversity; ignoring adversity.

Reeling in the votes while trampling on the voters.

Remember protection is in the next election!


Verse 2:

Repeal and Replace:

Reading and defending the Constitution.  ‘Fraid not.

Repeating things that have failed before — like trickle down — NOPE!

Rural folks used for votes yet no help when they’re sick or broke.

Ruling out The Great American Dream!!  (Sorry about that — Founding Fathers. I know you’re pulling your white hair out.)

Repeal and Replace:

Railroading — could it be that you’re being fooled?

Reprimanding the press for not singing your song.

Racketeering — calling it budgetary engineering.

Respecting just the right ones while rejecting “someone else’s babies” (Be powerful, Be rich, Get a tax cut)

Repeal and Replace:

Raking minorities over the coals, yet weren’t those the ones Jesus hung with?

Rewind the song and dance about death spiral (not the program, but our lives may be winding down)

Reverence for all is disappearing.

Ryan’s Rookie Health Bill — You may never see a nurse! (Kill the Bill, Kill the Bill, REDO!)

Repeal and Replace:

Regarding others as “less than”  (Different is delightful! Different is delightful!)

Rough Days on Death’s Doorstep for the fifties folks — half of income for insurance?

Review the CBO (Math NAH). Believe only the parts you like.

Resign if you weren’t on this year’s team. (Lose those jobs, add a few, but away with you.  Bye, bye, jobs.)


Repeal and Replace a congressman’s face.

Rejecting diversity; ignoring adversity.

Reeling in the votes while trampling on the voters.

Remember protection is in the next election!


Verse 3:

Repeal and Replace:

Reaching out only to straight whites but restricting bathrooms!

Russian Roulette – as hacking discourages democracy.

Refusing basic kindness to all of God’s children.

Ruling for Compassionate Hunger — no Meals on Wheels or after school kid food. (They need our money, give it to ’em honey.)

Repeal and Replace:

Recovery — Forget it. Rue the day folks believed your promises.

Rancor in the budget everywhere.

Running from reality while wrangling your rights away.

Rebuilding infrastructure by building a wall???!! (Do your job, do your job.)

Repeal and Replace:

Racism accepted and sometimes even rape.

Repeating from the history books –they won’t mind our dirty looks. (Resist)

Rarely standing for something — even if it means you lose or don’t get reelected.

Roads leading toward a not quite free society (can you spell fascism?)


Reach out to one another. Who knows,he might be your brother.

Remember to buy spy free appliances! (watching you, watching you)

Rely on standing in the truth — (My middle name is Ruth)

Rejoice that folks stand up on both sides of the aisle.

Restart a resurgence of respect and caring.

Rely on what people do, not what they say–(but the tweet was just joking?)

Review and change gridlock, reach across the aisle, and smile. (Get ‘er done, get ‘er done).


Repeal and Replace a congressman’s face.

Rejecting diversity; ignoring adversity.

Reeling in the votes while trampling on the voters.

Remember protection is in the next election!


Copyright 2017 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.

Posted in Matters of the Heart: Grief and Other Feelings, Poetry and Inspiration: Including Personal Growth and Self Awareness, Presentations, Sermons, and Other Public Musings | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Presentation: How Gospel Music Taught Me Life’s Lessons

(Although this was originally presented as a sermon, it has also been given as a presentation of the wisdom and legacy of gospel music.)

Gathering MusicSometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child  piano by Darko Varga

Centering Moment

Chalice LightingHarvesting Hope and Humor from Hate and Helplessness       

Inspired by Marge Piercy’s The Low Road (from We Are Everywhere), as I heard it at church one morning when I was distraught with the senior bullying issues at my retirement condo I was struggling with. My thanks to her for her for helping turn my helplessness into hope and comfort.


Voice 1 – What can they do to you?

Voice 2 – Anything they want!

Voice 3 – Maybe you can’t stop them.   .   .

Voice 1 – How could you possibly stop them?

Voice 2 – Well, as one, you can fear, you can fight, you can make earnest efforts alone.

Voice 3 – I’m so scared, since they usually roll right over you, yelling and screaming at you! And they even try to hurt you.

Voice 1 – But two people fighting back to back have a better chance.

Voice 2 – Yeah, I remember that termites can bring down a huge structure.

Voice 3 – Three can keep each other sane, giving support, inspiration, conviction, and hope.

Voice 1 – With four you can play games, start a committee, and sing in 4-part harmony!

Voice 2 – With six you can delegate responsibilities and start gathering ideas to further your cause.

Voice 3 – And with seven you can alert the public, caution the prejudiced, and even scare the powerful into taking you seriously as I did on the six o’clock news three times so far.

Voice 1 – It starts when you take the frightening risk of standing up and doing something.

Voice 2 – And when you do it again after they say no, refusing to stay in the victim position.

Voice 3 – It grows when you say we.

Voice 1 – And each day you live in the knowing that you are painting a better world.


                              The Happy Pariah

I stood up and said No to Seniors Bullying; a friend stopped visiting.

We suggested a change toward a more legal condo association;

Folks liked things the way they were, so they voted us down.


I wrote a letter explaining the legalities; hate notes against my family showed up on each of the 15 bulletin boards.

It was supposedly in the name of frugalities; one even mentioned the name of the Lord among some other not-so-nice words..


We went as the Minority Voice of our condo; we were yelled at, called names, and told to go home. But we are home, we said. We want to live together as neighbors.


My family has been bullied for far too long. Yet the sunrise still makes me sing a song.

We were two, three, seven, now more. Eventually they’ll let us have the floor.


We’ll stand up for justice while watching our back. The State investigators are on the right track.

I’ll keep working my way through my day. No matter what avoidance game they play.


But I’ll not stay in a victim position. I’ll watch the trees dance, then do what I can.

And if a pariah it seems I must be: I’ll dern well be a Happy Pariah!

Yes, a Happy Pariah I’ll be!


Welcome and Milestones: Member of Board of Trustees

AffirmationToday we’re thinking about standing for something. So let’s start by standing for our faith.

Love is the doctrine of this faith.

The quest for truth its sacrament.

And Service its prayer.

To dwell together in peace

To seek the truth in love

To the end that all shall grow in harmony

Thus do we covenant with one another.

“May we have the strength to stand our ground. Please be seated.”

ReadingTime for a Jesus Story

When Seniors Bully: Time for a Jesus Story

Friends who know me remember how I have always used stories in my over four decades of teaching as well as in other spheres of my life. It didn’t surprise them that I would use similar tactics in retirement.

However, it did surprise and shock me, though, to find my lovely retirement condo embroiled in struggles which involved bullying by a number of seniors directed at my family and several others who were trying to get our complex to comply with the law. Prejudice against gays was also a real factor.

I had moved here to be near my son and his partner since a decade of being a caregiver for my disabled husband had worn me down a bit, and I knew there would be times I would need their help,.

Among the seniors who showed blind loyalty to resisting change was a lady who really valued her friendships with the snowbirds who had been returning for many years to this lovely spot near the coast.

On January 3, 2014 she opened her apartment door and started toward the stairs. Her neighbor (my son), was struggling his way up the stairs on his crutches.

He needed a couple of minutes to make it to the top. She stood at the top and impatiently remarked, “Don’t worry. I won’t knock you down the stairs.” Well, that wasn’t exactly a threat, but it wasn’t exactly friendly either.

Then she went on to the yearly owner’s meeting, complaining loudly to me that he wasn’t friendly enough to her on the stairs. I wondered, but gently reminded her it took a bit of concentration to make it up the stairs on crutches.

Meanwhile, since our family was being bullied, we had started a buddy system to help curtail the opportunities for harassment. This was based on the idea that abusive behaviors occur more easily with privacy. So I was determined to shine the light on any places where a victim could be caught alone. This included the laundry room, mail area, parking lot and hallways. That meant my being there whenever humanly possible! I even started wearing a Go-Pro camera to document incidents.

A week or so later my son and son-in-law were in the laundry room, following the plan of avoiding being alone to reduce the bullying. This same lady walked up and said, shaking her finger pointedly, “I like you. I don’t like you. I really don’t like you.” As she barked out angry words, she pointed at my sister-in-law, my son-in-law, then at my son.

About then I returned from the restroom, right in the middle of shocked expressions. As I opened the door I was a few inches from her angry face. She seemed surprised to see me and stopped mid-sentence for a second.

I had been clued in by phone on my way down the hall, so I knew what had happened. I looked around, then said to the woman, “I think it’s time for us (me and her) to go on.” I was relieved as she headed upstairs to her apartment.

A couple of weeks later I spotted her alone in the parking lot. I knew this was my chance!

After a friendly greeting I asked her if she went to church. She answered, “Not often enough, but I’m very religious!”     Here was my opening.

I said, “I’ve been thinking about something Jesus said. His words went kinda like, “If you do it unto these my children, you’ve done it unto me.” At that point I held my heart and my voice quavered with real heartfelt emotion.

She recognized the near-quote from the teachings of Christ. I reiterated, “You see, when you do something to my son or members of my family, you’ve done it to me  .   .   .” She could feel my motherly emotions through my voice and piercing yet sincere eye contact.

I added, “You’re a mother — you know, don’t you?” Then she reached out to pat me on the shoulder and we both teared up a bit.

She had not bothered us since that day. About once a week I would see her and give her a firm yet caring look. My aim was to cement our agreement while showing respect.

I’m aware that this peace was tenuous, yet it is far preferable to the previous state of bullying. Too bad the other senior bullies involved weren’t open to words of peace. She still stands on the side of being loyal to those who vehemently resist change here in our complex, even when it means supporting illegal activities.  Yet for a while we had a mother’s arrangement.

Perhaps peace is a thin thread which must be nurtured to keep from breaking.

But all stories do not have a happy ending.

Unfortunately, with her associating daily with her friends who have a pattern of constant bullying of us, she eventually lapsed back into the hateful behavior. (A neighbor across the hall witnessed her calling her gay neighbor “A–hole” which was one of many similar actions which continue to this day.)

A few steps forward, and then some back. But on we go:)

Hymn: Love Makes a Bridge.   # 325                                                                                                                 Please stand on the side of love as we sing verses 1, 2, and 3 only. 


Near Seattle, living on a houseboat, a UU minister named Robert Fulghum said all he really needed to know he learned in kindergarten. He even made that into a wonderful best-selling bookl

He inspired me to admit that most of what I ever needed to know I learned from gospel music of my youth!

What I took from being raised in a fundamentalist tradition was simple strains of hope and words to live by. Some were like a lullaby for my soul while others were almost Rock and Roll.  Yup, some foot stomping and body swaying is quite in order for some gospel tunes! They charged me to find a calling for my life, to imbue my days with meaning. 

I always say tradition is like a buffet table where we bring what we can and take what we need. What I left on the table of Christian zealots was the drawing of circles that excluded some of God’s children, hateful behaviors and self-righteous habits and even some of the lyrics which you may notice have at times been adjusted. (I always found the first verse seemed truly inspired whereas the others were at times just finishing a product–arggh! including enough blood and guts to please the less inspired fundamentalist powers that be.)

Gospel music usually included some foot-stomping fun. I carry fond memories of touching lyrics and tunes right beside the humor and good times of singing with others. At our UU church, of which I was a founding member, one year we started a quartet. Ha, there were three of us, but we aspired to finding that 4th singer!

This love of gospel music doesn’t mean I cherished ALL my religious heritage. I also left on that table of tradition sternness, guilt, fear, exclusivism, the meanness of abuse and an unforgiving spirit since I took a personal stand that being a Christian for me should involve living in a Christ-like manner. These things I left behind are a little too obvious in the news these days. 

The juxtaposition of hope and harangue, yen and yang, rings true to my heart as real life is filled with such dissonance. In that spirit I might add that poetry bares the soul and music feeds the soul. I think of friendship and making music together as a form of “God’s Psychiatry”.  

We’ve all heard about the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Well, it’s time you heard mine. I was taught that the word “gospel” meant good news. In my youth, I was in dire need of some good news, and I found it in song — thus the Gospel According to Hildra. You may notice I changed a few of the words on these public domain lyrics to fit my heart’s inclinations.

The music and lyrics of my past took me from the depths of human feeling and pathos to dangling before me the charismatic possibility of hope for the future. I somehow even learned that I could make a difference in my world, using my free will. Never underestimate the subliminal and long-lasting effect of music and words on a person’s psyche! 

Sometimes the titles alone give the lesson summary; other times I just had to share some lyrics! No doubt the chorus of each tune stuck fast in my mind, and I love repeating them.


I learned the value of telling stories: 

I Love to Tell the Story

Tell Me the Story of Jesus

Wonderful Words of Life

This is My Story, This is my song, thankful for life’s gifts all the day long. Life is before us, all shades and hues. Grace is amongst us whatever our views. Sometimes we hold hope square in our hearts. Then we move on, each taking our part.

On the Jericho Road – My late sister, late brother, his dear wife and I always sang this when we were together–in 4 part harmony of course!

Then I learned how important it is to sing when you can:

He Keeps Me Singing as I go:

There’s within my heart a melody 

    And it whispers sweet and low

    Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep

    It’s all part of life’s ebb and flow.

Truth, care, understanding, sweetest words I know.

            Fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go.

I learned to sit right down for a lullaby:

Blessed Quietness on  the stormy sea, speaks to me and the billows cease to roll.

Fall Fresh on Me

Be Still My Soul

Take Time to Be Holy]

Tread Softly (Be silent, a whisper is heard. Be silent, treasure each word.

Tread softly, wisdom is here. Tread softly, it bids us draw near.)

In The Garden (I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses…

what a picture for the mind… the voice I hear falling on my ear. . . and

the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.) {I made my sister a CD of old songs we used to sing around the piano, to shape notes, no less.  She enjoyed it during her last few weeks while she was in hospice. She loved that.}

Now the Day is Over, night is drawing near. Shadows of the evening steal across the sky.

And then there was my mother’s favorite song, Do Lord.  My sister and brother and I sang it at her funeral. The words “Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me” made me chuckle, wondering if the songwriter thought God had a memory problem!?!

I learned to be part of a community and keep each other company: 

Abide with Me

A Beautiful Life  – Each day I’ll do a golden deed by helping those who are in need.

My life on earth is but a spell, & so I’ll do the best I can.

Blest Be the Tie

Brighten the Corner

Dear Hearts and Gentle People

God be With You Till we Meet Again, by His counsels guide, uphold you. Put His arms securely round you. God be with you till we meet again. (My older brother remembers hearing this as we left our church to walk home every Sunday evening.)

Somebody Needs Your Love. Out in the darkness of this Planet Earth. Somebody needs your love. Led by your kindness your soul finds its worth. Somebody needs your love 3x . Someone’s in sadness, yearning for gladness. Somebody needs your love.

I learned to love nature and seek the light.

Fair are the Meadows. Fairer still the woodlands. Robed in the blooming garb of spring. Love will I cherish, truth will I honor. Thou my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

Heavenly Sunlight. I sang this for a number of churches that my daddy preached at. That was when I was only 3 & 4 years old, before a life of abuse made me shy. Walking in sunlight, all of my journey; over the mountains thru the deep vale. . . Walking in sunlight, sunlight of love.

Beyond the Sunset

Let the Lower Lights be Burning

Sunlight, sunlight, in my soul today. Sunlight sunlight, all along the way. And of course,

I’m on the Sunny Side of Life!          

Peace be Still  – (I wrote these lyrics as we sat in the Chocolate Porch and took in the wonders of nature.)

A summer evening is time to play. I saw two rabbits right here today.

When we’re outside we can feel the breeze, and sometimes our allergies makes us sneeze.

One day we found a four-leaf clover, and dragonflies the whole yard over.

Chorus:  The world is out there. Look if you will. Peace, be still. Peace, be still.

                   Looking outside can be a thrill.  Peace, peace, be still.

Here in the woods you see hummingbirds. Hush, no words, watch the birds.

The wonders of nature are everywhere. Just look outside in the open air.

The rabbits and squirrels and mockingbird; they’ll all come by but don’t say a word.

Repeat Chorus


I learned Don’t worry — Be Hopey!

Peace in the Valley: I’m weak and I’m weary but I must go along till life comes and calls me away. Through the night dark and gloomy I will look for a light and watch darkness turn into bright day. There’ll be peace in the valley some day, though life seems so hard some days (so many ways). No more sadness, no sorrow, or trouble I’ll see. I will make peace in the valley for me (and thee).

Wayfaring Stranger

Be Thou My Vision

Balm in Gilead

In the Sweet Bye and Bye

Whispering Hope   (Didn’t Emily say “Hope is a thing with feathers.”)

It is Well with My Soul

Written by: Unknown, Copyright: Unknown

Climb, climb up sunshine mountain
Heavenly breezes blow;
Climb, climb up sunshine mountain
Faces all aglow.
Turn, turn from sin and doubting,
Look to God on high,
Climb, climb up sunshine mountain
You and I.

I learned to be grateful for what you have.

Showers of Blessings

Count Your Blessings, count them one by one.

Bringing in the Sheaves

Bless These Gifts

Precious Memories

I learned to stand up and serve others

Dare to be Daniel. Dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose firm. Dare to make it known.

Send the Light

My Faith Looks Up to Thee. My faith’s a melody. We sing in harmony. This is our choice. There is just one of me. I share my faith with thee. Join in this song with me, rejoice and sing. (with thanks to Shirley Locke with whom I coordinated on the words.)

Standing on the Promises

I Would be True, for there are those who trust me. I would be true, for there are those who care. I would be strong, for there is much to suffer. I would be true for there is much to dare.

A Beautiful Life: Each day I’ll do a golden deed, by helping those who are in need. My life on earth is but a span; each day I’ll do the best I can.

YOU MAY NOTE THAT I CHOSE TO HANG ONTO THE WORDS, NOT NECESSARILY THE ACTIONS I SAW AROUND ME. It took a number of years for me to become assertive enough to stand up. The examples of women in my life pointed toward what we now call “victim behavior” of accepting one’s lot in life with no thought of being a change agent in my own life. I had to learn to stand on the side of love while saying no. My heart still remembered those gospel songs which whispered to me of hope.

Active Standing Meditation

The famous starfish story (it made a difference to that one) taught me I didn’t have to solve all problems, but I could hold my head high if I made a difference!  Like I taught my boys in scouting, leave your campsite better than you found it.

But, oh dern, I thought I could stand up once and it’d be over. I learned it was like green living. Putting litter in its place was not enough. It took staying with it, so don’t give up, rinse and repeat! (Ahem, they even say standing up can be good for your health…)

Albert Einstein said the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.

So, for this Standing Meditation, you are welcome to stand if you wish.  We stand in reverence for making a difference. Then you may choose to either close your eyes or look at a window or other object to help your mind focus.

Think on these things while you ponder or pray, as is your personal preference:

Have you ever been kind to someone when no one else seemed to be?

Have you ever stood alone, maybe even while being criticized or attacked for your ideas?

Have you ever stood up for justice in matters either big or small?

Have you ever questioned an unfair bill?

Have you ever spoken out when hearing the toxins of prejudice being spewed forth? (sometimes this can involve friends)

I recently had to stand up as a witness and victim of hateful bullying. It was truly hard,  particularly with the many months of intense witness intimidation, but worth it to be an assertive advocate for change. 

Standing doesn’t have to be an angry act–in fact it works better if done calmly.

We stand in our truth, knowledge and kindness. 

We stand in our courage, and even in our fear.

We may even stand while shaking, hoping, or praying.

We stand in kindness and love, even for our opponents.

Stand up in peace and calm conviction.

We stand alone, but others may join in, or we may join another who stands.

We stand to make the world a better place. We don’t have to be perfect, or even always consistent. But we can spend time standing for something. We can stand up to be patriotic following your own conscience. 

Consider your daily life. Look for opportunities to stand for what you hold dear.

MLK said “The ultimate measure of people is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand in times of challenge and controversy.”

Remembering that quote may help you when you weary of standing, standing, standing for something!     

Please be seated as you continue to stand for what you believe, standing in both respect and love. 

These wonderful Summer Singers will inspire you now. Let the hope whisper to us for comfort and courage. Then let your days stand for something! That’s the Gospel According to Hildra.

Sharing of Responsibility Offertory

Summer Singers present Whispering Hope accompanied by Darko Varga

Closing Words:

As a teacher, I can’t resist giving you an assignment. Our homework is to spread hope and caring. Now go in peace while you rock with the saints both past and present!


Darko Varga plays a resounding When the Saints Go Marching In.

Copyright 2017 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.


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