May the Work She’s Done Speak For Her

by Dr. Paul Cienniwa

May the work I’ve done speak for me.
May the work I’ve done speak for me.
When I’m resting in my grave,
there’s nothing to be said;
May the work I’ve done speak for me.

I met Deborah Cartwright Clough during my first week at St. Paul’s, just this past June. I was leadinga Vacation Bible School class with Deborah’s granddaughter, Treanakay Bostwick, and Deborah was volunteering as a chaperone. After class, I told her how much I enjoyed working with her granddaughter. The elegant and eloquent Deborah responded, “Treanakay needs to try harder. She’s not focusing enough.”

May the life I live speak for me.
May the life I live speak for me.
When the best I try to live,
my mistakes He will forgive;
May the life I live speak for me.

A cradle Episcopalian, Deborah grew up in Delray Beach as a member of St. Matthews. Her family was very involved in religious life, serving on the Vestry and singing in the choir. When she married Orville Clough in 2003, she began attending his church, St. Patrick’s Episcopal in West Palm Beach. The commute became problematic, however, and the Clough’s started to look for a church that would have men’s activities that would suit Orville. After visiting several churches, they came upon a Swinton Avenue banner announcing Illuminated Worship, and by 2005 they quickly became dedicated members of St. Paul’s. Deborah was recruited for the Strategic Planning Team and then the Vestry, and that led to a leadership role with Family Promise.

May the service I give speak for me.
May the service I give speak for me.
When I’ve done the best I can,
And my friends don’t understand
May the service I give speak for me.

At this point, Treanakay was living with her grandparents, and St. Paul’s fit in as a church that was both intergenerational and family-oriented. By 2010, Deborah’s daughter, Brandi Bostwick, had relocated from Atlanta, bringing with her another granddaughter, Kamani. With so much young family around, St. Paul’s continued and continues to provide a place for an intergenerational family. As Deborah says, “St. Paul’s has something for anybody and everybody.”

The works I’ve done,
they seems so small,
Sometimes, they seem like nothing at all.

Deborah’s professional life is a commitment to service in Christ. As both a licensed mortician and a nurse, it is easy to see how her professional work affirms a life of service. Deborah’s personal life is also a commitment to service in Christ. She is tough on her family, but she is as tough as a wife, mother, and grandmother needs to be. She not only asks her family to try harder, but also she sets an example for her family. That example starts in church.

“Religion and faith are very important to me,” she says. “I don’t understand people who don’t go to church. God has given us everything we have, yet some people can’t give their time on Sunday. Services at St. Paul’s aren’t that long–not like some churches–so it’s not hard to give some time!

“My prayer every day is for others to see the Christ in me. My focus in life is to be an example of Christ to others.” Indeed, Deborah’s evangelism is by example. “At St. Paul’s, church life is not just about weekend worship. With all of its activities, St. Paul’s creates opportunities for me to serve Christ.”

When I stand before my God,
I want to hear Him say well done.
May the work I’ve done, speak for me.

Author’s Note
After interviewing Deborah for this article, I couldn’t get the words of the Gospel classic “May the Work I’ve Done Speak For Me” out of my head. The song was written by the Consolers, a Miami-based duo popular in the mid-20th century. The Gospel Music Encyclopedia says, “With just a guitar and two roughshod vocals, this married duo provided the public with an array of plaintive sermonettes, praise tunes and guilt-laden songs about wayward children.” Who knows? We might just be singing “May the Work” at an Illuminated Worship in the coming weeks…