Some Call It A Small Town Church. It Was a Lot More Than That
The town wasn't big. In fact, the town wasn't big at all! OK, let's be downright truthful here. It really wasn't even a town, not technically anyway.
A village? Alright. A Township? Sure, call it that if you want. But truth be known, it's more than that. A lot more. In my heart of hearts, I call it...
There was a small cafe, a small Post Office, a small grocery store, and a few other...yes, small businesses.
And then there was the church. Actually, two of them if you noticed. One's on the north side of the street (or highway, call it what you like). The other? Well, on the south side of the street of course.
Me? I happened to go to the one on the north side, thank you very much. And what's the name of that church, you ask? Oh, it doesn't matter, at least not for our purposes here. Just imagine the last small rural church you were in. Yep, it looked just like that.
It doesn't look now like it did then, of course. Somewhere along the way the waves of years and progress pretty much wore the old church down...and now there's a shiny newer looking one there. And that's OK, it is one beautiful looking church.
But it isn't the old one, the one that glows so special in my mind and in my heart.
It was more than a church, really. It was the community gathering place, the place where these people of the community, the farmers and farmers' wives, the old people and the young, the men and women would come together. They drove their pick-ups and their cars, they walked and they skipped along, they laughed together and they cried together and they prayed together.
They put on their Sunday best, their suits and those beautiful dresses. The men put slippery, greasy oil in their hair, and the ladies? Well, you could tell they had a permanent on Saturday. Mom would spit in their hand and wipe a smudge from a little boy's cheek. Dads would hand out peppermints, trying to keep those kids quiet for an hour or so.
Oh, and one more thing: Everyone and I mean everyone would sit in the same exact place Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. It never changed. I swear, in my warm comfortable memory, it never changed. There sat Dewey and Cornelia...there's Ralph and his wife, there's Hank and Edna and the kids. Over there is John and Esther and their boys, Morris and Dorothy and the family sat right there, see 'em? Oh yeah, Nelson and Grace, and Margaret at the organ, of course. The names of the people you're looking at may be different, but they sat in the same place every week didn't they?
And if someone wasn't sitting where they were supposed to be, better cook up a pot of chicken soup 'cause they were sick! You see, if they weren't they'd be in church.
After the sermon, the men would stand outside the front of the church and smoke Camel's or Winston's or Raleigh's and talk about corn prices, bean prices, and the government. The moms would visit about, well, whatever it was Moms visited about. And us kids would be in Sunday School reciting Bible verses or the Ten Commandments.
And then, after Sunday School, these people would scatter, perhaps going to a neighbor's for coffee and cake and cookies.
Everyone knew everyone. I mean literally, everyone knew everyone.
But more than that. Everyone cared about everyone.
I've heard that a school is the heart of a community. And businesses are the pulse of a community. And the church? Well, that church in that small community all those many years ago was that warm satisfying feeling that rests so comfortably down in the deep part of your belly and your soul. And your memory.
Or at least, it should be.