Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Trying to Remember What I Forgot

Today I took a drive in a part of the country I have not seen for decades. When I was a boy my grandfather would drive me up and down those roads. Sometimes it would be a trip to "the big city." Other times it would be a drive to visit a church member (he was a pastor), or a cousin. Sometimes it would be his route to one of the few small towns in this part of rural Mississippi. He had one town for shoes, one for farm supplies, and another for the basic supplies. You only went to town when it was needed. You only went on a Saturday, except for emergencies. You NEVER went on Sundays, except to go to church if church was in town.

The back roads held so many forgotten, buried, but great memories. There were the stores we would sometimes visit. They always held promise of a 6 ounce Coke and some kind of candy bar. Never far away was the RC Cola and the Moon Pie if we wanted a change from the ever popular Coke.

One crossroad brought back the memories of catching my first bass on an artificial topwater lure. It weighed all of 3 pounds, but what a memory! I was a young teen becoming the Bass Master world champion in that moment. I was so pumped I even bought a membership with Bass Masters so I could have the patch. After all, I had now joined the ranks of great fishermen everywhere.

One bridge crossed a creek where I watched Grandaddy baptize those brave souls who had given their hearts to the Lord in the most recent summer revival. That creek sure was bigger when I was a boy. I can't imagine how it shrank.

The church was called Riverside Baptist, though I have no clue as to why. The river was miles away. It must be from that old Spiritual that said, "Gonna lay down my burdens, down by the riverside, down by the riverside, down by the riverside..." It was an old wooden building, with straight (so they seemed at the time) wood pews, and a series of windows on both sides of the building. Those windows were always open in the spring and summer. There was no air conditioning. There were no electric fans. There were what we called funeral fans--a large, shaped piece of cardboard with a soothing image and an advertisment for local funeral services.

The only water we ever saw in those hot summer mornings and evenings was the glass of ice water sitting on the pulpit, condensation dripping off the cold glass. As my grandfather warmed up in his passionate preaching style, the air grew hotter and the water more tempting. We cringed whenever temptation and coveting entered his message, because there we sat, coveting that cold glass of water. It was always worse whenever he would pause and lift the glass to his lips. The fans would begin to fan at a frenetic pace. A hummingbird would have been proud of the fanning of many of us.

Riverside Baptist holds two strong memories for me, maybe three. I remember my Uncle Simp's prayer for rain (he was really a cousin, but they told us we had to call him Uncle Simp) during a drought. I have not heard many pray like him, before or since. And yes, it rained a few days later. I think Uncle Simp was the only one who brought an umbrella to that prayer meeting.

And I remember Uncle Simp's message on Elijah being fed by the ravens. I was only 9, maybe 10; but the image painted in his word pictures still sits in my mind to this day. There are days when Uncle Simp's words bolster my faith and let me strengthen myself in the Lord.

And then there was the outhouse. I remember the outhouse. I hated that thing. I hated it more for the promise of red wasps than for the other unpleasantries that come with non-plumbed outdoor bathrooms. And no, we did not have corn cobs to use in the outhouse.

This was just the first half of the more-than-one-hour-long ride. But it stirred so many old memories. So many things I wanted to remember peeked over the distant hills in my mind.

One day I will take that same journey again. This time it will be the spiritual roads with their markers that God has impressed on my heart. It will be a good journey, because there are those times that we need to try to remember some things that we have forgotten.

No comments: