Growing up, I think Sunday mornings were the best mornings of all. We’d teeter dirty breakfast dishes by the kitchen sink and walk out the back door just a few minutes before the church bell rang.
We lived just a block away from the Methodist Church, the place where my faith was born with water and with Word. There, Mom sang Gaither songs with a trio of women, and Paul Fullenworth was the usher, and a lady named LillyLove sat cross-legged in the front row — nodding with certainty about the promise of salvation. I played hangman with Carla, and we’d giggle during Reverend Winter’s sermons about the “ga-race of Gah-wud.” He was from Mississippi, and we never heard anyone talk like that before.
I remember the church-basement potlucks — with thick-sauced lasagna and bowls of fruit suspended in Jello. And I remember the tiny wooden chairs curved around the piano. Hortense told us that Jesus loved us, no matter what.
But mostly, I remember this: walking to church with my Dad. He was strength and security to me, and I buried my hand in his.
In patent-leather, I tried to keep up with his stride, but I had to take two steps for every one of his. Dad and I would march to his silly rhymes, and my Strawberry Shortcake dress would swing in the morning breeze. And my Daddy made me laugh.
I told him I wanted to grow big so I could keep step with him.
And then I grew up big. And this Sunday, all I wanted was to wish myself little again.
I still remember what my hand felt like in his. You don’t forget a thing like that.
I’m back in my childhood home this week with the girls, and we’re helping my parents pack up 42 years worth of living. The moving truck comes Wednesday. Most every Sunday since 1969, my parents have taken the one-block walk to church.
But on this — their last Sunday home — it was raining. Hard.
We all piled into the pickup truck to drive to church.
One hymn in, and I was already crying. We sang from the Methodist hymnal, and my grief was plopping wet drops onto the hymnal pages. I couldn’t squeak out any notes past the lump in my throat. Would I ever worship here again?
Beside me, my girls played hangman. And somehow, even that felt holy.
We ate potluck in the basement, and before we left, I snapped a few photographs of the stained-glass and the girls sitting in the wooden chairs. I found them stacked against the wall in my old Sunday school classroom.
And then, just like that, it was time to go. But like always, my Mom was the last one out the door. When I was sixteen, this irritated me. Today, I found it somehow comforting — that in this changing landscape of my parents’ life, some things stayed the same.
I told Dad we’d go on ahead.
The girls and I, we walked home in the rain.
A quick note to you, dear hearts: I’ll be here on and off this week. I’m not sure when — or if — I’ll post through the week, as we pack and move and and reminisce and maybe cry just a little, and laugh a bit more.