Thursday, December 8, 2011
I have a disattachment, somehow, to the cares of this world. I think it has a lot to do with having a strong cultural background and then living in a different place.
My father is from rural Alabama and my mother is from suburban Massachusetts. We grew up in a beautiful, wealthy town, south of Boston. But the culture of my father's life was with us every moment. We travelled to Alabama many times. My Uncle was a minister and had a small church, packed with the sweetest people you could ever meet. Many cried with joy, or repentance, at his revival meetings.
Have you ever heard the beautiful, humble songs of the saints in those old rural churches, down south? The melody echoes in my memory, even after all these years. The thought of them brings tears to my eyes.
When poor, gospel country clashes with rich, majestic values, there is a shaking of the character. There is a yearning for a life that is true and poor (in worldly goods) and grateful.
There is a reason this old reserved New Englander has a tremendous attachment to the old southern ways. I live in a cold society. It is full of culture and worldliness. But my heart is in the memories of the old Alabama life.
It is the world where Grandma wore pretty dresses, and spoke with such a deep accent, I could never understand her. She had the sweetest heart! I can still see her smiling, walking across the hill on the family property.
I remember her old house. It was humble and precious and just like something you would see in a movie from the 1930's. It was a white, 2 story, with a large covered front porch. The furniture was clean and neat and simple. Mothers in those days would set out tablecloths and bring you a drink with lots of ice. They would make sure you were happy! The home and the neighborhood were nothing like the suburban area in which I lived. It seemed like rural Alabama homes held the hardest working, strong families you could ever meet.
I remember living there for part of a summer, as a teen, and being given some lovely dresses. They fit me perfectly and were homemade. I only wish I still had them. You can't find beautifully made fashion like that anymore.
The Bible was the book everyone wanted to read. It sat predominately where all could see it. It was treated with the greatest respect.
I cannot even remember anyone not going to church. Everyone got dressed up and went together. Oh, and the music of that time is outstanding. Famous gospel singers openly loved the Lord. You could hear it in their songs. They knew where the real money came from - singing the old godly songs, knowing the reward was in Heaven.
The homes were neatly kept and lovingly cared for. The summer heat was intense but just right. There were gardens and delicious home-cooking. Neighbors watched out for neighbors and were friendly and thoughtful.
The sermons in the old country churches would melt the heart of the coldest sinner. They touched the soul and would never leave you. This is the southern culture that has stayed with me all these years. And so I listen to old gospel songs, from the likes of Roy Acuff and J.D. Sumner to help me stay strong in this cold-hearted world around me.
Sometimes I wonder what will become of my children, who have never been down south. But I know that my habits and values from those memories, are vivid in their daily lives. Somehow, they may just become half-southern without even realizing how it happened.
The reality of what I crave from this heritage, is old American values frozen in time. That is what the southern lesson is to me. It is the memory of what was, and what I must keep alive each and every day of my life.
Daddy's Presence - Holiness from the Garage.
The Sermons - What Daddy Gave Me This Week.
Ideas and Memories - Teaching Life Skills to Sons.
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