I am drawn back some 30 years ago to the place I started.
The old church with all it's peeling green paint and lack luster is where my mind plays today.
The place I first heard of Jesus.
The old basement where the Sunday School teachers told me the stories I still recite today.
The janitor who made us run for cover for fear of being chased out of our favorite spots that were "off limits".
The smell of rubber cement glue that was sometimes used for more creative purposes like bouncy balls and pretend boogers.
I still can taste the food that was served at potlucks,funerals and sewing's....Bologna sandwiches with mayonnaise and cheese.
Topped off with pies the old widow ladies shared and delicious chicken and noodles or scalloped potatoes and ham.
I can see in the frames of my mind rows of elderly people sitting in church. My grandma and her friends all in a row, ready to sing the old hymns of the past.
"Come thou fount of every blessing...
Tune my heart to sing thy praise.
Streams of mercy never ceasing...
Call for songs of loudest praise."
And there I am,little girl, sitting in the middle of my community.
My identity is here.
These are my people, and I am one of them.
And with all the imperfections, I feel a sense of belonging.
I am hemmed in and surrounded by people who love me.
I am a sprout who is squirmy and restless in the August heat. Watching flies hum around my face as I use the funeral fans for a swatter.
My mother is trying to get me to stop fidgeting while maintaining a decorum of dignity.
My father doesn't sit with us. But he can always see me.
He stands in the front and sometimes he catches my eye, and I know the look.
My daddy is the preacher.
I hear the song again....
It's calling my name...
as I hear it echo in my mind...
"Prone to wonder Lord I feel it...
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above."
My heart is drawn to the alter.
"Jesus come in. Come and seal my heart for you and your kingdom."
And today as I reminisce, alone, away from that familiar community, the people who once held me in their gaze, my tears fall.
I miss them.
Those people young and old who watched out for me. Who believed the best of me.
I still think of them.
I drive by their houses and I instantly flash back to those days when I shared life with them and their children.
I am a product of these years.
I will always hold those memories close.
I believe the grace which I have received is a precious gift.
The church I grew up in watched over it's own.
God knew that along with his grace we needed community to live in.
Walls of sorts that give us protection and love.
Just ordinary, fallen, imperfect people who love each other and guard against the enemy who is waiting to devour them.
Normal folks who don't always get it right but who strive for holiness.
Sinners like me who accept the fact that someone had to die to save us from ourselves.
I hear another song playing in the background....
"Count your blessings name them one by one,
count your many blessings see what God has done."
And today as I count my blessings I realize,
I am blessed to have been rooted in community. I am blessed to have the memories of old still linger sweetly in my thoughts.
Yes, I am indeed blessed!