Here comes a universal truth. Even though there are people from all eras of our lives that we would dearly love to see again, and there are old haunts we’d love to visit, we usually don’t.
We don’t want to bother people. We wonder if there would be anything to talk about, and we’d all end up disappointed. We shudder at the thought of being awkward or worse, unwelcome. So we say things like, “Who has the time? Maybe someday...”
One glorious thing my books do is give me a legit reason to see those people and visit those places. Sunday was one of those times. I was invited to the church that I grew up in, the Brownsville United Methodist Church in Union County.
We attended Sunday’s service, then the pitch-in, and then I gave a little program and sold some books.
I wasn’t even born the first time I was inside that church. And after that, my mother was visibly pregnant with me when my brother David got married there. I was probably all of two weeks old the first time I was hand-carried into the building. The thing I can’t get over is that quite a few of the women who were there then are there now such as Geneva, Barb, Charlotte and Pat. (More about Pat coming in my weekend post.)
There in that church I grew up, voted in my first presidential election at age 18, got married at 20. There I stood beside that church during my parents’ and my brother David’s and other loved ones’ graveside services. People who share my DNA and so much more are at rest on both sides of that building.
That church is home.
I could have spent all of Sunday there, alone, taking in the view from where my mother always sat, thinking, remembering, praying. Examining each panel of the gorgeous stained-glass windows. Peeking behind the curtain in the storage room where they kept (maybe even still keep) the beautiful angel costumes I couldn’t wait to become old enough to wear in the Christmas pageants. So they were made of white sheets and the halos of sparkly silver tinsel. That is the stuff of real angel attire, right?
I wanted to see if the little, round children’s table was still there and of course it was, in the former nursery, right where I sat when I was 2 or 3 or 4. The vintage Jesus pictures were still where they were supposed to be. Good. Charlotte Telker was still seated at the organ that Luva Cain bought for the church so many years ago. Yes.
Charlotte told me that she loved to hear my grandmother play the piano. That would have been before I was born when she was the church pianist. I don’t run into anyone who remembers my grandmother. What a treat to hear from someone who does.
I wanted to take in everything there in close-up, slow-motion detail, but instead, I got an overview.
The Methodist hymnals were still in their places on back of every pew. I listen to contemporary Christian music daily and I love my wonderful current church’s praise team and rocked-out tunes.
But oh how I treasure those old hymns, besides. The Old Rugged Cross. What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Blessed Assurance. It is Well with My Soul and a thousand more. (Speaking of thousand, O for a Thousand Tongues is a good one.)
Last night I went online and ordered myself a Methodist hymnal. I’m going to tuck it in the side pocket of my car and I’m going to use it every chance I get. If you see a random woman with the windows rolled up in a random parking lot belting out I Love to Tell the Story or Holy, Holy, Holy or A Mighty Fortress is Our God, think nothing of it. It’s just me, returning to my roots.
Yes, I am grateful for a reason to go back home Sunday, and I thank Pastor Shelley and the rest of those beautiful people from the bottom of my heart for inviting me, making me feel welcome, loved--for making me feel at home.
Because I was home. And I miss it already.
No spot is so dear.