daily preciousness

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

baptist mem'ries

Did you ever come across a tiny clue to a whole handful of memories that you haven’t visited in many years? It’s like a fragment of a hologram: even with the tiniest sliver, a larger image will reveal itself upon careful inspection.

So thanks for the brainstorm of memories that you unlocked for me this afternoon, Mr. Random personals ad creator. I thought I’d share them with you…

Jefferson Baptist Church: I can remember driving to it in Mrs. French's shiny new Lincoln.

It was my very first trip to church -- my parents were agnostics. I was so excited, all polyester-proper in my clip-on tie. Mrs. French was our neighbor, an elderly lady whose strongest exclamation was "Lordy Be!"

I guess that is appropriate, since her son was the pastor at that church. It was an impressive red brick church on a small hill. We drove up the hill and parked in her special spot. Before me, the seemingly mile-high steeple pierced an azure sky.

I have vivid memories of walnut collection plates lined with feathery forest green velvet. Change jingled in it, wrapped neatly in tiny envelopes. A booming sound came from the air conditioner, which recycled the smell of new carpet.

The choir rejoiced, in a slightly repressed Caucasian manner, of Jesus’ power. They were profoundly devout – I couldn’t imagine going up on stage and singing in front of everybody about somebody I didn’t even know. About something I couldn’t even feel. About a God who I never felt a connection to. But I smiled at the spectacle of it all… the spectacle of ladies in their Sunday best, smelling strongly of magnolias and delicately of righteousness. The spectacle of the handsome choir director dressed in all white: purity and godliness on conspicuous display for all to aspire to! And he had strong, expressive hands that swayed from side to side, moving the choir in joyful ululation.

I soaked in the music, experiencing the rumbling vibrations of a church organ for the first time. I could feel it in my stomach. I could feel vibrations from another organ, too – a funny feeling for that flashy choir director.

But that’s a story for another time.

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