Tuesday, October 30, 2007

You Can go Home Again


Last Sunday was the 200th anniversary of the Presbyterian congregation in Port Gibson, Mississippi. I was a member of this congregation from age 3 to age 8 when we lived in this city that General Grant himself declared "Too beautiful to burn."

I had no sooner walked into the annex (which had once been a presbyterian school, but is now the fellowship hall and Sunday school area) than I was intercepted by the church organist. Now, Miss Betty has been a fixture of this church since I was a child, but she continues to fill that organ bench every Sunday with style and skill. Of course, I agreed (say NO to Miss Betty??? I think not!) and a robe and folder were quickly found for me. My mother sang in this same choir 45 years ago. I felt like I was standing in for her, in a way.

As I was over at the piano in the Annex, picking out my part, I was joined by another soprano voice. I looked up to see Beth, one of the daughters of the preacher, Brother Daniels, who was there when I was a member of Port Gibson Presbyterian. Squeals and hugs ensued as Beth let me know that Miss Betty had recruited both her and her older sister, Melanie, for choir duty.

Being in the Annex together brought back memories of a children's fellowship group that we used to attend together on Wednesday afternoons. After a snack of cookies and Kool-Aid, we would sing "Follow the Gleam" and "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus." I know we must have sung other songs, but those are the ones I remember.

There were 5 Daniels kids. Alan, Melanie, Beth, Stephanie, and Quenton. Beth and Stephanie were close to my age and we used to play together before and after the children's fellowship at the manse (Presbyterian for parsonage).

And, of course, Beth and Stephanie had to remind me of the infamous "swing incident." Hanging from a great big tree in the side yard of the manse was one of those swings made out of a board with a rope in the middle. One day, Beth and Stephanie turned me around and around on the swing and then let me go. However, my best "Her Majesty" panties wrapped around the rope the OTHER way and I was STUCK! Miss Earline (Beth and Stephanie's) mama had to come cut my panties out of that swing. Pretty humiliating for a 6 year old!

It also happened to be Brother Daniel's 80th birthday, so a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" was sung to him right in the middle of church. He was in his element, surrounded by all of his children and many of his grandchildren and great grandchildren. The only person missing was his unflappable wife, Miss Earline, and I am sure she was beaming down on him from Heaven.

Afterwards was the covered dish dinner that is a staple of Southern church affairs. I indulged in a glass of sweet tea and set out to visit with everyone I could.

I was home.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Beautiful Things



When my husband suggested that we go to the Mississippi Museum of Art's exhibition of "Between God and Man: Angels in Italian Art" I have to admit, I nearly dropped the newspaper I was reading. He usually disagrees with artistic portrayals of angels, while I am comforted by these same portrayals. They give me something tangible to wrap my mind. I need tangible.

I also literally NEED beauty. I can become depressed to the point of physical illness when forced to spend prolonged periods in ugly environments. I got so disgusted with the waiting room of the counseling center I worked in when I was in grad school, I organized a bake sale to pay for paint and lobbied the administration for new furniture.

So looking at rooms of beautiful angels was right up my alley. Even if my husband insists that they don't really have wings.

He needs to watch "A Wonderful Life" one more time.

Right, Clarence?



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Another View of St. Louis

I recently visited St. Louis to meet a group of friends from my belove Weight Watcher thread RML. This used to stand for "Run My Life" as we would pose questions to our fellow posters for help in making decisions. Now, we just get together daily to support one another in both our weight loss journeys and in our lives.

Since my MG diagnosis, get-togethers, while still enjoyable, are a tiny bit bittersweet. Some of the places that others visit are off limits to me. I have to go to bed early while the partying is still going on. Fatigue puts me into more of an observation mode that a participatory one at times. Even on my scooter, I can't always keep up.

But, there were some advantages to being obliged to take things at a slower pace and not being able to stay with the crowd. Some one on one time with a particularly dear friend who chose not to participate in an activity was precious. Being able to appreciate the very quiet, but VERY dry wit of another friend was also a lovely surprise. It was interesting to sit back and watch which combinations of personalities seemed to mesh into even closer friendships.

And I was blessed.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Preacher




Sometimes a minister comes along who becomes known to most of the adults in his congregation simply as "Preacher." Not Don, not Reverend W., but Preacher.

The former minister of my church, "Preacher", was called in to preach this morning in the absence of our regular clergyman. I did not realize just how much I have missed this man until I saw him in the pulpit today, singing the hymns with gusto, giving the choir the "thumbs up" after the anthem, and preaching a real, three point sermon with Biblical references throughout.

Preacher was more than a preacher. He was also a PASTOR. That means he visited the sick and shut in. He listened to the members of his congregation when they needed to talk. He treated his wife with courtesy, love, and dignity.

And, he stood up for me.

For ten years, out of fear and lack of skills to know how to handle the situation, I had been the recipient of unwanted attentions from a "pillar" of our church who was a member of the staff. These unwanted attentions ranged from being inappropriately touched to being backed up against a wall in an empty Sunday School classroom. The man was 40 years my senior and I was afraid that no one would believe my word against his if I said anything. So, I kept my mouth shut.

Until one day, bolstered by therapy and the realization that I did not have to just "take it" I went to Preacher. I told him that if that man touched me ONE more time, I was going to deck him.

Preacher took a long look at me, and said "Be my guest!" He also told me that he would stand by me if I wanted to make a complaint to staff-parish. I was amazed at the "no questions asked" support I got from this precious man.

As is customary in the Methodist church, Preacher's time with our church came to an end, and he went on to bless another church with his presence. We have had "Preachers" since then, but, alas, no one who deserves the title of "Pastor."

But, just for today, we had Preacher. And, once again, I was blessed.