I was born and raised a true Southern Baptist complete with dinner on the grounds, summer revivals, and Wednesday night prayer meetings. my week was planned before it even started - days were for school, but Sunday and Wednesday nights, church. but for me, the best part of all, was seeing my friends and getting that extra 'buddy' time that school days just didn't provide. In the disguise of GAs and Acteens, i met my 'bestest' friends, spent hours of doing what teenage girls do best, jabbering. we made some memorable (and questionable) decisions - like when Carol, Pam, Susan and I stuffed into Brenda's Henry (a.k.a. a pea green late 60s mustang) and rolled our Acteen leader's house, or when we borrowed my dad's 48 Chevy and spent my 16th birthday at the drive-in (THAT is a another tale and one that has never been told). Don't tell anyone, but it was fabulous. as an only child, I lived for church because that is where I found the sisters I never knew I had.
At that time, i had no idea what a lucky girl i was. not only did I make some of the most enduring and long-lasting friendships of my life, but I also formed a relationship with God that would carry me through my unpredictable later years. Although I'm not as consistent, shall we say, as I once was, when it comes to walking through the church doors on a weekly basis, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't look UP and converse.
With that said, I am most assuredly not catholic, but my husband is. Much like me, my husband's life was resurrected around the church, its traditions and beliefs. I tell him I would have been a horrible Catholic, with all that kneeling and stuff - terrible knees you know. I have visited St. Patrick's cathedral in New York, purchased a beautiful pearl-like rosary and even lit a candle for my daddy. I'm sure i didn't do it right, but in my simple mind, I was close to God and my daddy.
Every year since the beginning of my life with Len, we have celebrated Christmas by attending midnight mass at St. Joseph's in Athens. much of the time, I was lost, but followed my husband's movements as best I could. It was a long way from my Southern Baptist, Bethlehem Baptist. If my prayers were answered, Rev. David McGinness would lead the service. I first met him at St. Mary's hospital when he comforted Len as his mother was slipping away. such peace, humility and grace he brought with him. even though I wasn't catholic, I knew where he got it.
He's a man of small statue, heavy on the Irish brogue, and shockingly, very entertaining. At masses, he always began his remarks with a comical tale and then shifted into a deeper lesson. He did so this Christmas night when he began with a scale and ended with a birth. "There was no room in the inn," he began matter-of-factly. Such a disappointment for those who missed this blessing, he continued. And why is there no room today? Such clutter. Such unnecessary stuff.
As I go through the daily chores of everyday life, I want that stuff gone. Those thoughts erased. Those people that make me sad. the events that I can't change. The lives that I can't touch. I don't want to miss out because I didn't make room for the important moments, people, events, tears, laughter . . . joy.
I will do my best to consciously make room - daily, moment by moment, breath by breath. For my husband who unselfishly gives me his heart; for my children who still hug me and want to spend time with mom; for family who never forgets the history that glues us together; for my heritage, one that has built my character and won't let me down; for my career, one that gives me such pleasure; for friends who make me a priority in their life, not an option. I don't want to wake up this time next year and realize, with disappointment, that I missed the king.
It's Easter weekend. although it's cool, spring is coming on soon, and I can't be more ready. My thoughts have been living in the past for most of this week for unexplained reasons. Possibly, the popping of the pear trees, the azalea blooms warding off the cold, the aroma of spring floating through the air. and i think of mama and daddy and spring in Clarkesville.
Right around this time of year, I always observed black dots in our pasture. Newborns. dropped whenever time came. Nothing made daddy prouder than waking me way too early in the morning and squealing to "come" see our newest baby calf. He loved on the mama cow and made sure she was as comfy as possible. and he didn't take his eye off the baby until it was on all fours. He was a good daddy.
On Good Friday, we always planted our garden. This meant hours in the field, driving the mule, dropping the corn, and complaining a lot. However, I didn't complain months later as I slathered butter on my perfectly formed ears of sweet corn. I strangely forgot about the heat and the dirt. I still try to plant my few tomato plants on Good Friday, a long way from the ten acres I walked as a child. I thought everyone planted on this exceptional day. If you were southern, you did. Occasionally, I forget that everyone is not that lucky.
It was the sunrise service on Sunday morning that always tested my faith. Rising early on the weekend never made sense to me, but on this weekend, it did. In the middle of a golf course, on the tallest hill around, church members watched the sun squeak over the hill. I grumbled, but that defined my Easter. Then, daddy and me would rush home. Id put on my bonnet, my froufrou of a dress and my always too-tight shinny black shoes, and we'd head to church. As I grew older, I sang in the choir - sans froufrou - and it was always the most spectacular song for that morning. After the service, the three of us would then return home where Sunday dinner and laughter would season that day and all the ones that would follow.
My rote movements through the years, I'm afraid, have failed my parents and myself for that matter. I still survey pastures this time of year for the arrival of black dots, and I can't help but smile and remember daddy. I try to plant when the weather allows, but I have left behind the sunrise service and songs of resurrection. I can't say why, only that I know it's not as I had intended. I watch, I listen, I inhale the heralds of spring and I remember. I stand amazed at how years change us, how circumstances mold us, and how what we think will never vanish, always does. Although my stirrings are quite different than before, the hollows those early traditions carved in my heart remain. There's not a day that goes by that I don't recall from where I came and know that with a little effort and inspiration, I can be back on that tall hill beside daddy watching the sunrise.
Whether it is exploring this amazing world or being content on my own piece of real estate near Athens, Georgia, I'm spinning stories and fashioning tales from a Southern perspective. As an editor and writer, I get to meet incredible people and share their stories. As a photographer, I get to cement these moments in time. As a wife and mother, I'm always excited to see what's around the next corner, For it's anything but ordinary.