Fear of the all knowing

Published 5:50 pm Thursday, September 12, 2013

The sound of the angels moving furniture around in heaven woke me the other morning.

For a long time, I just lay there listening, remembering.

I grew up in the time of childhood innocence. We believed in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, magic beans and a dozen other whimsical things.

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So the thought of angels moving furniture around so they could mop the heavenly floor soothed any would-be fears of a threatening thunderstorm.

But my granny told the story differently from Mama. She said the thundering crashes were the devil beating his wife. I liked Mugi’s version better. I could just see the ol’ devil up there with a big stick beating the living tar out of that old haggy wife of his.

See, back then, fighting was a favorite past time for young’uns. My cousin, Jimmy, and my friend, Betty Kay and I fought every time we were together. We didn’t stop until one of us got blood. I don’t know which we loved more, each other or fighting.

Betty Kay had a scar on her lip where I hit her in the mouth with a porcelain doorknob. I have a scar on my finger where she ran over it with the push lawnmower, but that’s another story.

Since young’uns were eager believers, our mamas thought they could scare us with threats of the “boogerman” coming to get us but I wasn’t afraid of him.

Mama said I wasn’t afraid of the ol’ devil himself but there was one thing that I was scared of and that was God.

In Sunday school, our teachers told us that God was everywhere and that He saw everything that we did and heard everything that we said. Why, God even knew what we were thinking. That scared the day lights out of me. I didn’t want God hanging around everywhere I was and seeing what we were doing.

We fought, set things on fire, smoked rabbit tobacco, cussed (heck, shut up, darn), went where we weren’t supposed to go, took things that weren’t ours and lied about it all. And God didn’t need to know about all that.

But in Sunday school, the teachers also said that God would forgive you for being bad if you asked Him. We would bow our heads and thank God for our mamas and daddies.

Some children thanked God for their brothers and sisters. I did not. My baby brother cried all the time and his used diapers smelled real bad. We’d finally get to the praying part about asking God to forgive us. But the teacher always said “amen” before I could get around to it all.

When I got a little older, I really wanted to put a face on God. I wanted him to show himself.

One Sunday, Julia Irene Gilmore told me that God was in our church. That he was the man that sat by himself on a pew in the back of the church. He wore a black suit coat and had real white hair. That’s kind of the way I had pictured God but I didn’t think he would have such a big nose.

It was a long time before I learned that the man was Mr. Tupper Lightfoot, a “piller” of the church, my granny said.

But, thinking that Mr. Tupper was God, kept me in line during church and probably saved me ‘minya’ whippings when I got home.

Mr. Tupper’s family was one of “means” and he could have lived a life of ease. But he chose another path. His home was a lending library and he provided the money for many young people in and around Brundidge to attend college. He was a strong supporter of the schools in Brundidge and gave generously to them.

During his lifetime, Mr. Tupper gave way all that he had. He died a penniless man.

Julia Irene Gilmore made the whole thing up about the man in the black coat sitting on a pew all alone being God. But she was right in that Mr. Tupper was a godly man.