Only watch this video if you want to cry. I suppose I thank God for tears.

The Nashville studio musician collective “Ten Two Six” recorded this version of “It Is Well With My Soul” by cell phone some weeks ago.

I am reminded of what a stunningly beautiful and harmonious city and country we can be – and that we are – in many ways. I believe a more perfect union lies ahead: there is a will for it.

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This morning, Andy and Sue Spickard kindly share their wisdom and perspective from their current home base at the Assembly at Monteagle, up on the Mountain…

Andy is Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt, having practiced and taught internal medicine for over 45 years. He was the founding medical director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Treatment of Addiction and received the Chancellor’s Chair in Medicine in 2003 for his contributions to research and teaching of addiction and physician wellness. A nationally recognized expert in the area of substance abuse, Andy is co-author of Dying for a Drink: What You and Your Family Should Know about Alcoholism (see Bacon review here). 

Sue is fearless, kind, and exceptionally smart. A vibrant life-long learner, she speaks French fluently and plays the piano as a more-than-capable amateur; she skied for the first time in her 60s. Sue is a founding member of PENCIL and received the E. Bronson Ingram Award for her dedication to public education in 1997. She has chaired the boards of the Junior League of Nashville, Cumberland Valley Girl Scout Council, Martha O’Bryan Community Center, YWCA and Renewal House; serves on the board of the Alliance for Public Education; and is an inductee into the YW Academy of Women of Achievement.

She and Andy raised 3 children and enjoy 11 grandchildren ranging in ages from 18 to 29.

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Hi Andy and Sue! I know my readers will be grateful for your thoughts and perspectives, as will I!

How are you all doing? What’s your state of mind now compared to early March, when the nation and Nashville were going into lockdown? 

Andy: We are blessed to have a safe haven at our home in the Monteagle Assembly, although all of the programs and activities have been cancelled for the first time in 138 years.

Sue: I am more relaxed and accepting. In March we assumed that all would be normal soon.

How much news do you read or watch? Where do you get your news from? 

Andy & Sue: We watch CNN, NBC and PBS.

Do you feel more hope or despair right now, in relation to the coronavirus and other news of the day?

Andy & Sue: We are encouraged by the amazing hard work of many – the medical community, the care of our own community, the creativity of those trying to entertain us, and many other examples of kindnesses and concerns. Therefore, we are hopeful.

How does 2020 compare to 1968?

Sue: No comparison: 2 assassinations within 3 months – Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, riots at the Democratic National Convention, the Tet offensive in the Vietnam War.

Andy: We were in Florida and a black physician friend of ours was hiding in his house. For me, the visual of George Floyd being pinned down with a policeman’s knee on his neck was, again, a profound personal reaction.

What worries you most right now, personally and for our country? 

Andy: We need the right leadership for our nation.

Sue: We all need to be conscientious about protecting ourselves from the virus.

How do you stay connected to family and friends and church community? What do you think of Zoom?

Andy & Sue: We have enjoyed reconnecting with many friends and family. Zoom has been most helpful. Our church has provided many opportunities, Sunday worship, small groups for prayer and study. We have especially enjoyed our neighborhood group, one of 18 small groups called the Community of Belonging.

Have you eaten out at a restaurant yet? If so, which one? If not, where do you think you might go first?

Andy & Sue: We have appreciated the take out opportunities. Last week we went to the Green Hills Grille, the Picnic, and First Watch and felt well-protected.

How are your children and grandchildren? Are they feeling more confident about going out into the world? Are they consumed with worry for our country or their own communities, or are they going about their own lives with hope and faith?

They are all teaching us with their resilience, good humor and creativity. Some have serious responsibilities, some are job searching and moving to different places, and some are finding new creative outlets. It has been fun to watch.

What are you reading/watching/listening to? We all need recommendations!

Andy: Documentaries – some on WWII, particularly around Churchill’s leadership and the Battle of Britain. Currently David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers.

Sue: Nonfiction mostly – Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas. I am currently enjoying Bill Bryson’s walk through Australia – In a Sunburned Country. We have watched a few old movies, including “Dr. Zhivago”.  

What has given you the most pleasure or comfort over the last few months? 

Andy: Working on our garden at Monteagle.

Sue: Practicing my golf at the Sewanee course. Indulging in baking bread and eating it.

What is your favorite time of each day?

Andy: Late in the afternoon – oj or wine – either on the patio or watching the news.

Sue: Reading a book after lunch on the porch in my special day bed.

I need one of those Sue. Thank you both!! xoxo

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Andy and Sue celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary this past March; they met a month after Sue transferred as a junior from Northwestern to Vanderbilt, when Andy was an intern in general medicine. They married 18 months after their blind date. They only lived outside of Nashville for 3 years (at Johns Hopkins and then the National Institutes of Health). I have noticed that they spend a lot more time at Monteagle these days now that they have air-conditioning there!