Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday Sermon at Possum Trot

Most folks don't realize that, just like cow paths, county roads move around.

The old county road that went from Grandview in Rhea County over to Alloway in Cumberland County used to go right through the DeArmand farm, wind down the hill and cross Whites Creek and go up through the old Moody farm and back up to Possum Trot, where it made the climb up to Alloway. The road has moved down to the new bridge but the old Possum Trot Ford is still there.

Grandview and Alloway are still on the maps but they aren't towns anymore, just like the not-a-town-anymore that I live in, Glen Alice. Glen Alice washed away in '29 but it's the bigger of the three not-towns. Got a monument, too. Glen Alice also still has the five foot by five foot concrete slab that was the old United States Post Office, I hear, but I've never seen it. Grandview and Alloway just faded out but churches and cemetaries never go away and folks seem to have a need to visit their dead.

The powers that be decided that there should be a bridge over Whites Creek but Possum Trot Ford is wide and shallow and bridges are cheaper to build where the creek is narrow and deep so the road moved. There was a lot of blasting and dozing and cement mixing ad Baker Bridge was born. I don't guess it mattered much that Alloway and Grandview were connected by Federal Highway 68, the new bridge would let folks get to Zion Baptist Church on Sundays without going all the way around in the Winter when the creek was up.

The folks at Zion still dunk. Just upstream from the new bridge (They still call it the new bridge 53 years later), there's a high rock wall on the South side of the creek and a nice pool with a sandy bottom on the North side...not deep enough for a swim but perfect for a dunk.

The rock wall has amazing acoustic properties which I discovered one Sunday morning sitting on the new bridge after a hike. The bridge rail is one of those old fashioned kind that have holes in them. You can sit on the ledge with your feet poking through the holes and prop on the railing. I used to look out my car through bridge railing holes at rivers and creeks as I drove by but you can't do that any holes in "new" new bridges...only concrete.

So one day a couple of years back, I was sitting on the bridge wondering who the voices up the creek belonged to? The voices were on my property, after all. Then the singing started. I knew it was from church people then, but it was bouncing off the rock walls so that it sounded like the rocks themselves were singing to me.

Now country churches are about a lot of things and peace and love don't rise to the top in most of the ones I've been in, and I've been washed up, dressed up, threatened, and dragged around to a fair number. I've heard a lot of hellfire and damnation and mean things come from a pulpit, but even in the worst church you'll hear good music made by plain folks. The good church people may drink, and cuss, and fight, and sneak in each other's back doors, just like every other bunch of folks on this planet, but come Sunday they gather up and condemn, repent, and sing.

I like the singing.

So this day, sitting on the bridge, I listened to the rocks sing... Harmony. There had been a good dunking and now the good people were singing to the rocks and the rocks were singing back. I listened until they stopped and started walking up the trail toward the bridge and I walked to my car and left.

Yesterday, we drove in toward the old Possum Trot Ford where the road used to go and hiked around a bit. Whites Creek cuts many channels in the gorge during high water and in the droughts of summer, some of the back channels become ponds as the lowering water levels cuts of the channel to the main creek. The ponds are usually full of fish...Huge bluegills and smallmouth and a gazillion or two little fish that go back into these slews to hide from the bluegills and the smallmouth. We started at one of the dunking pools, hiked up on top of the ridge and back down to the clear blue green pool near where we'd left the truck. It was really hot and we were really sweating and the pool was really clear. There was thunder from the storm on the ridge top but we got in the water anyway. The fish aren't afraid of people once they're in the water and they came right up to me as I swam under a large rock shelf that hung about a foot above the water and went 8 or 9 feet back before it ended. It was one of those places kids like to get in. So I'm a kid, too, watching the surface of the pool ripple up as the rain came in. The rain started in big drops and then the lightning so we got out much too soon. But it was good while it lasted.

The church people have no monopoly on the need for renewal. It's a human condition. There are times when a person just has to Dunk... If only the rocks could have sung to us.



1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:48 PM

    I am doing some geneology research on my family heritage that is from White's creek, Tenn. Do you know any one that I could talk to about the history in that little area? I am related to Cloyd's , Marshall's, and James, Families.If so please email me at thank you