One of my favorite hobbies is people watching. Whether it be at the airport, the water park or the Walmart, it’s just something that I enjoy doing. It helps me to understand and appreciate how different we all are and the various stages of life that people are experiencing. Whether it be trying to corral small children, looking for that perfect plastic thing you can’t live without or trying to fit into last year’s bathing suit.
My love of people watching and appreciation carries over to church, where I get to work the left door four months out of the year. In my part-time position, I get to talk to people, listen to people and watch their reaction when I say something a little off the wall. Not to frighten anyone off, I only say peculiar things to people I know, who understand that I am just trying to get a smile.
This past Sunday was not one of my working Sundays, so this means that I will sit far enough back to see the folks who I know sit in my section. I am also always trying to convince myself that there just seems to be more folks on my side of the church during the months that I am the “Keeper of the Left Door.” It’s not true, I know it is not, but I still like to think it and brag about it to my fellow doorkeepers.
So I’m guilty of a little vanity when it comes to working my door, knowing folks’ names, remembering what is ailing them and understanding where they like to sit to listen to the music and the sermon. I’m also guilty of sneaking in a Jumble puzzle word if I don’t get it finished before going to church. Don’t get mad at me, I only glance at it and think about it between innings (or between parts of church).
On this day, I had scribbled down my unsolved scrambled up word on the church bulletin to take a look at if things got slow. The scrambled word was “PARREY.” On this Sunday, I wouldn’t get many chances to take a look at my puzzle word, because my preacher was on a roll.
Not a yelling and screaming roll, he doesn’t do that. Just the kind of roll where I started searching the congregation seeing if his Daddy was there. Why? Well, he was just doing an incredible job on this Sunday. The kind of job I wished his Daddy, who is also a preacher, was there to see. I’m sure he would prefer “Minister,” but I grew up in a rural Baptist church in Alabama, where we called our beloved, “Brother Clyde,” the preacher. So I call him a preacher.
On this day, if he were playing baseball, he would have hit for the cycle, which is something that is almost statistically impossible to do. The bottom line was, he did a great job in doing what he is there to do.
More interested in the sermon and studying the congregation, unscrambling my word would have to wait. I started wishing that some of the folks from earlier in my life were there to enjoy this fine sermon that was being delivered. Brother Gold Cofield came to mind. He sat up toward the front of our little church and would deliver an “Amen” every once in a while that sounded like a bear growling from way back in a cave. It echoed and could be heard outside the church, in addition to the 50 or so folks sitting inside the church. More than once or twice, his baritone “Amen,” would startle and wake up a couple of fellows sitting a couple of pews behind him and they would chime in with their less than melodious Amen’s, not knowing what they were “Amening,” but needing to let folks they weren’t sleeping (or at least not anymore).
Knowing where folks on my side of the church sit, there was a part of the sermon where our preacher was noting the importance of the number “70,” and it having to do with a lifetime. Being a mathematician and appreciating numbers in the Bible, I did what any 4-month a year Left Door ushers would do – I checked the back row of the left section.
I knew who would be sitting there. There is group of two or three ladies from a nearby retirement home, who come to church almost every Sunday and sit in the same place. I wanted to see their reaction to the 70 years and the lifetime symbolism, etc. There was one lady in particular, who I wanted to see if she would change her position or react.
Seldom changing her expression or saying much… She looked up… As soon as the preacher noted 70 years and mentioned lifetime in his explanation, she looked up. It made me very happy. Probably happier than hearing ol’ Gold Cofield pulling an Amen from somewhere deep below the ham, grits and eggs he had for breakfast on a Sunday morning.
Because I know for a fact she’ll be 105 on her next birthday. That’s 70 plus another half of 70 – that is a lifetime!
Having seen and heard what I considered a miracle on this day, I was able to unscramble my word after the preacher finished. “PARREY,” is just “Prayer” all jumbled up.
I had pork belly tacos for lunch and appreciated the message I received on this day.
CMT Column from the week of February 27, 2017, All Rights Reserved and Stuff like that...
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I'm BN Heard and I like semicolons, dogs and pulling legs while working the left door.
I will be back on stage April 30th hosting the Better Said Than Done show at Jammin' Java in Vienna, Virginia.
Below is a video from Better Said Than Done's January Show where I told a story about my Papa and going to Vernon, Florida.