The Last Night
It’s really hard to believe it, but tonight is the last night I will be sleeping as a resident of Georgia. Tomorrow is the day we load up the U-Haul and head back to Tennessee.
Gone will be the quiet, star-canopied nights when I would sit on the steps of the back porch with my little dog and listen to nothing, except the sound of crickets, coyotes, or a cow somewhere across the way.
Tonight will be the last time I look at that old church lit up in the distance, the church I had no desire to leave.
Lots of Water
If you think of our time here like the old metaphor, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since we moved here in 2019. I mean, what better way to start a pastorate than be faced with an unprecedented pandemic? What fun!
But over the last three years we have had the wonderful opportunity to meet many sweet people, not just through the church I pastored, but out in the community. To begin with, there was the old black man that worked the morning shift at McDonald’s. He was the most enthusiastic person I think I’ve ever met!
Back in 2020 I started painting. That led to meeting many friends down at the farmer’s market in Sandersville. Honestly, I’m really going to miss seeing those folk on Saturday mornings. For over 2 years I sat through hot and cold, even when I didn’t expect to sell much, just to hang out with and encourage them. And, on top of that, one never knew who you’d meet that was just passing through.
Covid took its toll, of course, and we lost a few friends, some very close.
My mother came down with pancreatic cancer while here, yet she rarely missed a church service, unlike most of the rest of the congregation. I held her hand and sang “Amazing Grace” as I watched her life slip away. She just stared at me the whole time. I’ll always wonder what, if anything, she was thinking.
Goodbye to the Culture
Funny thing, growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I thought I lived in the South. Well, I was evidently mistaken. I wasn’t Southern enough to put up with gnats, enjoy pineapple sandwiches, or own a truck (even though I really wanted one).
Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot down here that was wonderful and refreshing, but on the other hand, some of the things that annoyed me back in Tennessee were only made worse down here.
For example, where I was from a church was rarely more than one hundred years old. Down here their age regularly exceeds two centuries. Unfortunately, so do the family influences. Nothing is done quickly, and nothing is done without the approval of a select few (and that does not include the pastor). There is no hope of ever becoming a local if you just learned about kaolin and never picked cotton.
Back to Pavement
So, after tomorrow, it’s back to the fast-paced, bumper-to-bumper life of the blacktopped world. No more dirt roads. No more small-town limited government. No more knowing your sheriff or praying in public, even before a football game.
Next week it will be the 4 or 6-lane highways, the world’s fastest internet, 4 or 5 local television stations, a major newspaper, tons of restaurants, gang shootings, murder, drugs, and routines that sap away one’s life.
But that’s the way it’s got to be, Georgia. We had our good times, but we weren’t meant to last.