I held hands with my grandfather. His hand firm and warm, his hair white and wavy, his weathered leather Bible in the hand that wasn’t holding mine. My grandmother held my other hand, walked in heels that clicked, her slender fingers entwined with mine. She wore her hat pinned on her red hair, like Lucy Ricardo, only not as whiny.
We walked across a parking lot, rapidly filling with Buicks and Oldsmobiles and couples in their 50’s. We walked across the sidewalk, across a campus that was bigger than my elementary school, into the largest room I had ever been in, filled with rows and rows of wooden benches. The sounds of organ music and hushed voices floated in the air, like an aroma one breathed. Church.
Church was a cavernous building with a man in a suit far ahead of me, thundering in a voice that made me climb into my grandfather’s lap. The booming voice, the tops of heads, those are all I remember of that sanctuary.
And of the Sunday school my grandmother walked me to midway through the service? I remember the classroom was upstairs. I remember the aggregate stairs, the small rocks felt in relief against the worn soles of my Sears catalogue shoes. And in the room? I remember the potato vine. The half-potato, balanced over a clean peanut butter jar filled with water, its white roots extending into the jar, while above, a vine traveled up the wall, over the windows, past the bulletin board, large and green, sending tendrils in tight circles around whatever was in its path.
If the teacher had said, “This is the nature of God, it creeps everywhere, it will find you and wrap its love around you no matter where you are,” would I have understood it then? Instead, they told me something else, and for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was.
©Cathy Warner 2004