Sunday in the Bible belt. I was in for a culture shock.
The kids and I loaded up our luggage into the car, prepared to say goodbye to our longest stop thus far and re-enter the world of road travel.
But first, you can’t go to the south without visiting the little country church. So we piled into granddaddy’s car and drove to the First Presbyterian Church of Bay Minette for a service with about 50 people who reminded me very much of my grandparents’ friends in the church I attended as a little girl in Southern California. While formal in dress, the informal, warm style of the service and serving and the sermon about a countryside version of the Prodigal Son made me distinctly aware that I am not in the city or anywhere near it.
As I shook hands with the minister and thanked him for his encouragement to relinquish resentment and embrace gratitude, I noticed he was looking at me strangely. It didn’t occur to me until I left the building that the church is so small and the people so well acquainted that he noticed I was a visitor and didn’t want to be rude and ask.
Or maybe it was the tattoo on the back of my neck. Oh well, I’ve always been the black sheep.
After church my granddaddy treated us to another buffet. This one was larger and located in the small town of Stockton, Alabama. The warm southern drawl of the hostess made me feel like I’d stepped into a film about the south. Trinkets, nicknacks and plaques with Bible verses were set up on display and for sale in the entry.
In the main dining area, there was an elderly lady at a keyboard playing hymns. Three crosses decorated the table in front of her. Everyone eating was in their Sunday best.
My daughter looked at me and asked if we were in another church. I told her I think the whole state is one big church on Sunday.
After we ate, we big farewell to southern Alabama and made our way to Montgomery where we met up with a friend who drove to visit me to discuss the present state of midwifery in the country.
And by evening we were in South Carolina. Late at night. Sleeping in a “dirtier” part of the south that I hope to get a glimpse of in the next couple days. The Blue Ridge Mountains. I’ve dreamed of this part of the country most of my life.