The Ole Church
Submitted by Robert H. Gilbert, Jr.

While driving home, this afternoon, I began thinking about my hometown. It has been seven years since I've been back. So, a lot of thing are sure to have changed.

Donít know why I have been thinking about my hometown so much, lately.

I stopped at the mail box, before pulling in the driveway, to see how many bills I had gotten.

Once entering the house, I sat down at the table and was looking at the bills when I noticed a letter from an old friend, Billy Mitchell. Wow! What a coincidence.

In reading Billy's letter, he told me of a reunion of old church members that was going to take place the weekend of July 4th, and this month was May. Billy gave me his phone number and said to call him, to let him know if I could make it.

Calling Billy, we talked for a long time about the good ole days. He said, ďA lot of your old friends will be there. They all will be happy to see you.Ē

As time dragged by, I began getting geared up for seeing my old friends again.

I called the airport and scheduled a flight out of Alaska for Georgia. Although, I hate to fly, I only had two days off. Luckily, I got a non-stop flight.

At the airport, at Atlanta, I rented a car and drove down to Macon. Having already booked a room, at the Holiday Inn, I was ready for some sleep. But, I knew I had to call Billy and let him know I was here.

Sunday morning, I drove down the street to where my family and I had lived as I was growing up. There were many empty lots, where houses once stood. Names of folks that lived in those houses came to mind. There were the Mitchell's, Smith's, Jones', Rushmore's, Letterman's, and many others that I donít recall.

Wow! It had been a long time since coming home again.

As I pulled into the drive way, of the church parking lot, I could see the walls had cracks showing and on the roof were missing shingles.

Even though there were cracks in the concrete walls, that old cross (above the doorway) was still as white as if someone had just painted it. Not even those cracks could penetrate the cross.

As I looked around, something came over me.

The memories came back anew; as when I was a kid, coming to this church with my grandparents. How my granny would scold me even before we got inside, ďIf you donít behave yourself, today, I will show you what this new white plastic belt can do to your bottom."

"Geesh, granny. Iím only 5."

Walking inside the church, I could recall who would sit where. Everyone had a particular seat and, if you sat in their spot, boy would you hear about it from them.

I noticed that the walls had cracks in some places and other spots was missing some concrete. Benches were, now, faded from age. Some of the seats had splits in them. However, the pulpit was still standing as where it was the day I left town. Inside, there was a song book. As I thumbed through the pages, some were faded out. Other pages just crumbled in my hand.

I walked over to the piano. Many songs had been played on that old thing. A few keys were missing. I pecked on the keys and boy was it out of tune, or maybe I was. I wanted to sing, "You ain't nuthin' but a Hound Dog"; remembering my child-hood days at church.

Billy went to the pulpit and began thanking everyone for coming to the reunion. As he began to talk, we took our seats. For some reason, I had a comfortable feeling sitting next to the person on my left.

A lot of kids grew up in this old church. Members, that had gone on before us, would be excited to see all of us come together again, one last time.

Billy was standing where several great men I knew had stood. One of the preachers would be looking outside during his sermon and, when he heard a bird sing, he would say, "Folks, God is talking to you."

Another preacher of ours would get so deep in a sermon, his arms and legs would start flying through the air. Can you imagine a man, about 6'6", moving around in church like that?

Each of us had our own memories to recollect and, I must say, there were tears in my eyes.

As we began to leave the old church, one last time, Billy asked if I would turn the lights out on my way. One by one, the light grew dim. As I got to the front door, turning out the last light, there seemed to be another light I had missed turning off.

As I got to the front bench, I noticed a bright light coming from where I had sat earlier in the evening. I approached the light and looked around for the switch. But, there was no switch to turn off. There, on the church bench, was the brightest light I had ever seen.

Tonight, I had been sitting next to a visiting angel. Guess that angel represented all those who has gone on before us. They will live in our minds and hearts forever.

© 2002 by Robert H. Gilbert, Jr.

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