Going without my Sunday shoes

Published 10:15 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

My granddaddy said that when you point a finger at somebody, there are three fingers pointing back at you.

There were three fingers pointing back at me last Sunday morning as I drove up row after row trying to find a parking place at a big city ballpark.

When I finally parked, I mingled with a hundred or more little boys with ball bats protruding from their sports backpacks that made them look like something from “Star Wars” or pulling equipment bags along on rollers like they were about to board a plane for the Far East. Among us were hundreds of daddies, mamas, brothers, sisters and other family fans.

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“Why aren’t all these folks at church?” I questioned myself. Then I saw three fingers. “Why am I not at church?”

For heavens sakes, it was Sunday morning and we live in the Bible Belt.

At least I had listened to Bill Gaither’s “All-Time Favorite Homecoming Hymns” on the drive. Maybe that counted for something.

As I sat on the bleachers, watching people pitch artificial shade, rummage through coolers and woof down hotdogs for breakfast, I remembered my Granny’s prediction, “The world’s going to hell in a hand basket.”

I kind of felt like I was in the basket.

Between games, we grabbed “Sunday dinner” at a fast-food establishment and I found a soapbox to perch on.

“Seems like the ballgames could start after church,” I said between bites. “Even the shopping malls don’t open until after church. (Response.) Well, maybe times have changed. But, like Miss Mattie said, I hope there’s a new Bible to go along with these new times because, according to the ‘old’ Bible, we ain’t doin’ right.”

“Amen, sister,” somebody in the next booth said. “Amen.”

I wasn’t talking to him but I appreciated the support.

I went on to say that “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” is in the top five of the Commandments that God laid down.

“Why, it’s up there above murdering and stealing — the big ones that can land you in jail. And above ‘honoring your father and mother.’” I put the accent on “mother.”

Later, that afternoon as I sat at the ballpark, I thought about the way it was on Sunday when I was 10 years old.

There was no question about it. We were going to Sunday school and church. So, we put on our Sunday clothes and Sunday shoes.

We went to Sunday school and had Kool-Aid and a cookie before going to church. There was no such thing as “big church” and “children’s church,” just God’s church and everybody went to it.

We kept our little behinds on the pews and did our best to feed on the word. We learned all those great old hymns, the Apostles Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and to click the heels of our Sunday shoes together to stay awake.

After church we went home and sat down with the family to eat Sunday dinner. After helping with the dishes, we got to go outside and play. Our grandparents always took a nap. When they got up, they would go for a Sunday afternoon drive and we would get to go along.

We’d sit in the backseat and Pop and Momie would point out things of interest along the way. Pop would tell us about the crops in season –corn, peanuts, cotton, pecans. Momie would tell us about the wildflowers and sometimes we’d stop and pick a few.

In the summer, we got out and pick wild plums and blackberries and stop at abandoned home sites and gather a bucket of figs or a few pears to eat. Pop said that wasn’t stealing because nobody lived there anymore and the stuff would just go to waste.

Along the way, Pop and Momie would tell us stories about the folks that used to live in the houses and who worked in the old stores and about the different places we saw.

Once a rabbit hopped across the road and Pop said he was so smart that he could tell how many soppin’s of gravy was in him. We laughed about that.

I probably learned more on those Sunday afternoon drives than I did all year in school.

When we got home from riding around, the grownups would sit on the porch or in lawn chairs and talk while we played.

In the summer, we’d usually play ball in the pasture and sometimes we would make ice cream or slice a watermelon. In the wintertime, we’d go inside, eat teacakes and play checkers or dominoes.

We’d go back to night church. We sang a lot more songs and the preaching didn’t go on so long.

We’d eat a supper of leftovers, read the funny papers and go to bed.

That’s the way Sundays used to be — but times have changed and I’m looking three fingers square in the face. But I’m not by myself.

So, if I’ve stepped on a few toes, I don’t reckon they were in Sunday shoes.

Jaine Treadwell is features editor of The Messenger. She can be reached at jaine.treadwell@troymessenger.com