The early morning fog blanketed the barren field to slowly reveal the abandoned Church. I walked carefully across the cotton field freshly picked with scattered cotton bulbs sticking to my boots. In the distance the steeple uncloaked its magnificence, the plankboards appearing old and weathered. The design was powerful and demanded reverence and quiet while gifting us with its comfort and grace.
I walked closer, ever forward toward the beautiful yet forgotten sanctuary. The stained-glass windows long taken away perhaps to live in another holy place. The windows were open, stark, sinister, yet inviting me to look within to see a fading beauty now only found in the relics of a forgotten glory. The pews were still smooth to the touch from years of hands touching the deep wood in a weekly ritual. The wood floor was solid making my steps echo loudly as I walked toward the carved pulpit hesitating to stand behind it and gazed at the empty pews. A crow perched in the open window was my only congregation listening intently.
I held the pulpit with both hands and steadied my pounding heartbeat, taking a deep breath and closing my eyes. Reluctantly the church revealed its stories as I listened. The sound of people shuffling into the pews and soft voices whispering to neighbors, the ruffling of the choir members’ robes as they entered the choir loft. A cough muffled, a child’s laughter and a quick shhh from the mother, and lastly, the pastor walking to the very pulpit I stood behind. The choir stood and the piano keys sounded a melody of gospel notes and the words became singing and then silence.
The smell of old choir books hung heavy in the air, a musky scent, pine and oak tickled the senses with a pleasant reminder of the strong wood that kept the church standing. Off in the distance, you could smell cotton wet in the fields from the morning mist. A haunting smell of cologne and perfume enticed me and reminded me that long ago people wore their best clothing and sang their most soulful songs. They laughed here, said goodbye to their loved ones and were married here hoping for a lifetime of love and lastly, they brought their children here.
I felt a sadness that the old church stood alone, forgotten, abandoned and left without hope, yet the church gave me a glance past the veil of time to a place where it still stands in its magnificence and breathtaking beauty. With a feeling of forlorn, I looked back at the church still standing proud, still inspiring to those that stop and look. It is a place I will not forget, and I hope to visit often. Even now as I leave it calls out for me to return. At the end of the road stood a sign.