My mom moved in with me several months ago, and I can remember her hauling me to Sunday School every Sunday to go to my grandmother’s church. Grandma taught Sunday School, and the preacher at her funeral had been one of her students, when he was a child. That must have been a strange experience for the man, to stand there to say words for a woman who taught him what they meant, and he did a good enough job. It was cold and rainy, so he made it as short as he could have, and still said what he thought needed to be said.
The church was a cold edifice, in the winter, because most of the members of the church were famers, county folk, hardened by poverty and their own homes were not overly warm. These were people who made quilts out of necessity, not because it was some symbol of their pastoral roots. There was no pretense to their clothing, their mode of transportation, or their faith. They had what they had, and it was enough. Having enough was something that was a very good thing. Tthen there was some for those without, and those without were never far away.
Their god was a personal thing, like a neighbor, or a family member, a parent, or grandparent, and the world they lived in harbored very little deceit. There was very little theft, and adultery, where it did exist, was very carefully hidden. Everyone went to church every time the doors opened. There was hardly any spare time in the lives of farm people past hard work and worship. The ground opened to receive the dead, and to produce the bounty, what there was of it.
My grandmother’s house, the one she shared with my grandfather, was wired for electricity in the mid 1960’s. They got an electric well about the same time. There were very few inside lights, even then, and no outside lights, so a trip to the bathroom, even the one inside, was an adventure. A trip to the outhouse during very cold weather might be memorable.
You know what you’ll never experience? You will never walk out into total darkness with nothing but stars in the sky, and realize, that’s enough. You’ll never push the bucket down into the well, with the reflection of the stars shimmering in it, and hear the sound of the pulley squeaking, and sound of the bucket hitting the water, and the sound of the winch as the bucket is pulled up again. Once, nearly every person living in the county had drank water, from a dipper, under the light of the Big Dipper. The spare moments of a person’s life were found here, under the light of the Milky Way, drinking pure water uncontaminated by progress.
I’m not here today to question where there is a god or no god, or many. I’m not here to question your salvation, for if such a thing truly exists, I would think that’s a personal thing between you and whatever god you’re looking to save you from whatever you feel you need saving from. I’m here today to simply say that the overwhelming population of people in America who lay claim to being “Christian” would not have been recognized as such, in my Grandmother’s Church.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit.Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.