In a review of one her poetry collections, Kaye Hartley is described as “a spiritual grandmother of our times.” With her husband, Reverend O. Joe Hartley, they planted and pastored churches for decades all across the fruited plain.
I met Kaye one evening when she came to a WritersInTheSpirit meeting accompanied by her faithful and dutiful daughter Gloria Bacon. I was attracted immediately by the beauty of Kaye’s gentle lightness. She radiated the love of Christ. She came to be everything in a Christian that I aspire to be.
During WITS meetings she would often sit quietly and listen—but one evening when a conversation threatened to turn adversarial, I marveled when she spoke up about the love of Christ with such stealth and contextual precision—with such gentleness and lack of guile—I’m certain those involved in the argument were unaware that she had purposely interceded to quickly and successfully restore unity.
One evening she was scheduled to lead a WITS meeting and we met in her home because she had not been feeling well. During her teaching she struggled physically but pressed on in her weakness. When she closed the meeting to intercede for someone with a need, she rose up slowly to pray. Frail, but standing, she prayed with such astonishing force and volume—when it was finished she collapsed back into her chair—exhausted. I was gobsmacked. I didn’t think it was possible for a frame as slight and weak as hers to sustain such an intercessory effort. It reminded me of that scripture, in Hebrews, where Jesus is described as offering up fervent prayers and petitions with loud cries.
But Kaye wasn’t a loud Christian. She didn’t promote a social or political agenda. She didn’t waste any time getting entangled in Christian theology debates. The good news was very simple to Kaye—it’s about love and redemption for everyone through Christ.
From her book, God’s Poetic Word:
JESUS, MY ALL
By Kaye Hartley
I’m so in love with Jesus;
I’m glad I am His own.
He sees my every weakness
Though to others they’re unknown.
God’s Word says that He loved me
Though my life was steeped in sin;
When I asked Him to forgive me,
He came to dwell within.
Now I’m overwhelmed with wonder;
It’s such a thrill to know
That Jesus is a Friend to me,
Is mine where’ere I go.
He’s my teacher and instructor;
His Spirit helps me grow.
His Blood’s a cleansing agent
That’s a never-ending flow.
He’s my source of confidence;
The leveler of my life.
He makes His Presence known to me,
Helps me to cope with strife.
He walks with me in valleys
As well as mountain heights.
Whatever route my path does take
He makes things come out right.