A Country Church and Cemetery.
I have found more when I was lost on the back roads of Alabama than any other time. Not my destination, which eventually, after enough left and right turns, will arrive.
I’m referring to the old country store whose doors still swing open to customers and talkers. Or a vacant building with doors that don’t, and a soft drink sign on its side, rusty but readable, from its newness of fifty years ago.
Or a country cemetery where there is a certain serenity except on Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Situated behind the church, that final resting place for two hundred or so souls finds itself on those two occasions in the company of the congregation and choir creating an implosion with their rendition of Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art, or their version of an eight point ought earthquake with Onward Christian Soldiers.
On this Friday afternoon I found myself there, and got out of my car. A huge white oak to the right of the newly painted crisp white structure had a couple of squirrels scurrying to its upper reaches with a dexterity equal to that of a third one hopping around the base of the tree. Stained glass windows seemed to be everywhere, and full-length white shutters were situated on both sides of each window in case the devil found this speck on the map and loosed a violent thunderstorm.
There had to be an untitled caretaker-member who lives within wind howling distance, and in such a case, would come swirling down the road to dutifully protect the precious stained glass by closing the shutters with his outstretched fingertips. Of course if a quick gust or prolonged gale got there before he did, he’d have to deal with the shutters clacking against the clapboard.
To my left the sun was tottering in the tops of the loblolly and slash pines, the bright oval a crown for a moment. As I stood there listening to the silence, the orb receded ever so slightly, and the bright glow began to cast a sheen encasing the needles in their horizontal slivers of gold.
The glass-fronted marquee to my right pronounced the coming Sunday sermon, Now. The pastor, whose name I did not note, was probably today’s version of the circuit rider, covering three or four churches on a rotational basis.
When I was finally standing on the sacred ground, a spontaneous reverence seeped through my shoes. I wondered whether I should be in this place at all, not knowing or being related to those here.
Then I saw it. In the middle, just at the back, by the woods. It wasn’t aged, as I think every other one was.
Partial Prologue One More Good Day