The sun-dappled porch was quiet and cool. I was lost in my thought. The ideas were stuttering their insight. The yellow legal pad tried to capture them before they wafted away on the breeze. 

In my effort to stimulate my thought, I was reading snatches of “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard. As I work to carve out space for more writing, I thought it might help to read how others did it. It was liberating to read that it takes 2 to 10 years to write a book. Patience, Moseley.

As I reveled in Annie Dillard’s spare but vivid words, I turned the page and there, hiding between pages 32 and 33, as if waiting to disrupt my revelry, was a bookmark. The picture was of a cat standing on top of some books, underneath were the words
                Your Personal Bookseller
                 Mills Bookstores
                 Belle Meade
                Hillsboro Village
 And hiding under the bookmark was the receipt, still legible, $12.89.

And my mind whipsawed back some 25 years when I was trying to figure out how to write a book. And back to the old, tightly packed and chaotic Bookstore in Hillsboro Village in Nashville, TN, where I frequented not only when I was served a congregation there but also 50 years ago when I was studying at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

And there I was stopped in my tracks. My musings were hijacked as I was swallowed by the warm memories of small privately owned bookstores where books spilled out of the shelves, crying out for me to pick them, open them and have my mind introduced to new worlds. It was a place where you could talk books with those who knew them. I am so grateful for the chance to be embraced by such places.

I know there are still places like Mills Bookstore, but, I don’t live near them. And anyway, there are times when I just want to revel in warm memories. This is one of those days.


I found it and was moved. I was looking through the Moseley Suitcase* at the recent Moseley family reunion. And there they were—love letters.  There in a crumbling scrapbook were envelopes and inside were 2 letters. They were the first love-letters my mother and daddy ever wrote to each other. They were written in 1934.

And they were such a treat. For they revealed young and flirtatious people whom I never knew. By the time I knew my parents, there were five children to feed and love. These letters were written during the depression and before the second World War. I did not know them till the war was half over and they were trying to make ends meet. 

And what was cool about these letters was that I saw my parents as human beings who were not parents. They had not been changed by the deep responsibility that love of children calls forth. They had eyes for each other that had not been tempered by the reality of war and struggles to raise a family. They were young and playful.

As I read those 2 love letters, I was moved to tears. These were people whom I had known all my life and yet, were people I had never known. I was sad that I had not known them and was so happy to meet them now. For I saw an innocence and a delight that all young people need. And I saw that my parents were far more than I knew them to be.

Maybe that is important for us all to remember. Every one of us is more than we know—more than we can know.  Each of us is a collection of experiences that have shaped us but experiences that are unique and hidden from each other. Maybe that is why looking at each other with eyes of grace is so important.

* (The Moseley Suitcase is one piece of luggage that contains remnants of my parents’ life. This brown fake-leather case with a green strap holding it together was created by me and my siblings when my mother died and we disposed of her furniture. The suitcase contains old photos and scrapbooks and reminders of my parents’ life. The suitcase has been carried from house to house where we can all delve through the memories.)