We missed services at our Quaker church this past Sunday because we were on the road to Alabama. When I was a kid in Tennessee, my family never missed a church service even when traveling on Sunday. If we happened to be on the road all day, we stopped for services in the morning and the evening. That’s just the way it is when you are a Baptist preacher’s kid living in the Bible belt.
One summer, we were driving through the Northeast, when my mother thought it would be interesting and educational to attend a service at one of the oldest churches in the U.S. It did not bear our denominational classification, but dad felt that it was “close enough.”They baptized babies that Sunday, which, in spite of what you might think, is a very un-Baptist thing to do. The many doctrinal differences were so vast that my parents felt like we had not actually been to church. So, when the service concluded, they sought out First Baptist of whatever the name of the town was, and we attended church for a second time that morning.
Dad was relieved to see the huge baptistry that was only used for adults and for children, who had reached the mysterious “age of accountability.” Based on my childhood experiences, I assumed it was also a make-shift swimming pool for daring 5-year-olds who took the opportunity to skinny dip while their mothers were in the church basement holding Ladies’ Missionary Fellowship meetings.I remember one particular Sunday when we were traveling through Virginia. I had carefully chosen my outfit — a white, seersucker, pencil skirt paired with a lavender, pintuck blouse and high heels. Designed to make Baptist boys take notice, but still modest enough to pass muster with Mom the modesty Nazi.I spent an hour applying makeup, and was still working on my hair when dad made us pile into the station wagon. With a mirror in one hand, and pick in the other, I teased my bangs higher, higher, higher in what might have appeared to be a tower of Babel-like attempt to reach God. I whipped out a can of Stiff Stuff (firmness level 140) and began to spray.