Taking on too much as a senior citizen can sometimes cause life to stall out. Like an old car that sputters and dies pulling a steep hill, I often run out of the energy to complete tasks on time. For those readers who follow my blog, I apologize for not posting for a couple of weeks. A new project is in the works and taking a lot of my time. I'll write more about it later, or see my other blog.
I want to tell you about my recent visit to Baptist Ford Church. As a writer of regional fiction, I often look for unusual places to promote my books. In this case, visiting the church came about when an avid reader who has been the direct cause of many book sales, called and said her pastor had been wanting one of my books for a long time. Could she just pick up a few and take them to the Wednesday night services for some folks who wanted them. My reply was, of course she could, but would she like me to drop in before the service and sign copies? She cried out, you'd do that? Yes, please.
A little background on Baptist Ford Church. The following is an excerpt from my book, The Boston Mountains: Lost in the Ozarks:
"Beginning in 1830, nondenominational church meetings were held in a log building on this site. In the Sheriff’s census of that year, there were 233 heads of household in all of Washington
County. Many of the earliest settlers moved in where Greenland would one day grow years in the future. There is a cemetery next to Baptist Ford church where services are held today. The view approaching from the south on a coil of the old highway is picture postcard perfect.
"In the original community of Baptist Ford, there were seven members, four men and three women. Thirty years later, a final entry was made in the church records. It reads December 1, 1860. In the ensuing gap three large black letters are penned: W A R.
"In reading them, I hear the cannons’ roar, the thundering march of soldiers, the screams of the dying as the state was split apart by a dreadful civil war. The years 1861 through 1865, struck silent the strains of hymns and the laughter of children. During those dreadful times, the original log building was destroyed, as war knows no boundaries. Its destruction left only the indomitable will of the people who continued to gather in their homes to worship."
And it was to this church, sitting on the banks of the West Fork of the White River just south of Greenland, that I traveled last Wednesday evening. In order to reach the church today, it's necessary to leave the new stretch of four-lane highway 71 and take the old abandoned concrete slabbed narrow two-lane off toward the peaceful church and cemetery where services continue to be held today over 175 years after they first began.
Inside the church, a few folks had gathered early, as is their custom, to visit a while before services take up. Children play and giggle while grandmothers and mothers hasten to quiet them down. Near the altar the pastor runs the vacuum over the carpeted aisle. I'm made welcome and installed halfway up on a padded pew. Everyone who comes in spots me as a stranger and comes to welcome me and shake my hand, even before we're introduced.
I can't help but think of those original seven founders and what they would think of those who carry on their legacy so many years later.
It's quiet outside when I haul my books back to the car to leave. There's a fragrance of growing plants and moist soil in the air. The river flows like a whisper in the silent evening air and somewhere a redbird cries out cheerily. My grandmother always told me the cardinal is saying pretty boy, pretty boy, but its cries are varied and I stop to listen to each before climbing in my car for the journey home. I'll not soon forget this visit or the kind and friendly people I met there.