A Pew for You

I had dinner over in D.C. tonight and the agreeable weather made it a great night to sit outside. The restaurant’s patio area was delineated from the hectic sidewalk by a rustic cast iron fence topped with weathered planters full of store-fresh geraniums. Behind this barricade, my table and five others were neatly arranged. Six full tables enjoyed dinner and got in some good people-watching. It seemed we all finished our meals around the same time and reluctant to leave such a cozy place on such a pleasant evening, we six full tables of strangers began to talk amongst ourselves as if we were old friends at a reunion.

At one point, the woman at the table beside me told her husband that she wanted to get some things done around the house Saturday, but on Sunday they were going to church. The look on his face proved church had not factored into his plans. His wife knew that look better than I and she cut him off before he could say anything with  “Ohhh yes. We’re going to church. There’s a pew for you this Sunday!” Then she turned to me to say she asks him every Saturday night if he’s going to church with her on Sunday.

I told her that rang a bell. Growing up “across the field” from Nannie, my grandmother, meant I spent many hours as a teenager at her farmhouse working in the garden, helping in the yard, or sitting on her huge two-story screened porch out back. Nannie was more than a Sunday church-goer. She was involved in everything at church regardless of the day of the week. The fact that the church was less that a quarter mile away and visible from the very porch she sat on every evening underscored its relevance in her life. She didn’t miss a Sunday and she gave her best effort to ensure others followed suit. Unfortunately, as a teenager who preferred to do almost anything else on Sunday mornings, I probably often made the same face that the man at the next table tonight gave his wife. Nannie, just like this man’s wife, would ask every Saturday evening that she saw me whether I would be at church the next day.

One of those Saturday evenings I had been helping Nannie with yardwork. We rested on the porch and as I stood up to leave I winced when she asked, with her always sweet and calm tone, “See you at church tomorrow?” I could never lie and say “yes”, but to say “no” made me feel such guilt that I was always trying to come up with unique responses to divert her attention until I could disappear behind the boxwoods by the porch and head home. Somehow, if I could just make it to the boxwoods I felt I’d dodged the bullet. I froze. “See you in church tomorrow?” she sweetly asked again. I remembered a line I’d heard so I looked her squarely in the face, not even using boxwoods as cover, and said “Sitting in church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car.” She simply said “Maybe not, but cars don’t need to be saved.” When I responded with “All of them I ever drove did.” She started a good Nannie chuckle and before she finished I was behind the boxwoods heading home. I hadn’t gotten far when I heard her say again “See you in church tomorrow.” This time not presented as a question…

The woman at the table beside me seemed to enjoyed my recollection of Nannie’s weekly attempts to get me to church. She turned to her husband and said again, sternly, “We’re going to church.” He leaned up to look around her at me and said “I guess I’ll have to. Know any way I can get out of church Sunday?”

“Plant boxwoods on Saturday.” I suggested.

Stuart M. Perkins

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84 Comments

Filed under Humor

84 responses to “A Pew for You

  1. Excellent, folksy humor. Enjoyed your writing.

  2. Jennifer Crow

    Love the story.

  3. I absolutely love this story. Very well written and point well taken. Don’t think my boxwoods will grow fast enough. Guess I’ll just have to get ready for church this Sunday.

  4. rubble2bubble

    More. Just give me…more.

  5. Loved the story. Took me back years, both as a teenager, a father, and a pastor.

  6. Nice post. It sounds all too familiar.

  7. My Granny used to sit beside me and bribe me with Smith Bros. Cough Drops. Wild cherry. Thank goodness she didn’t have a hedge. Thanks for writing.

  8. It’s funny how a story can take you back in time, which this story totally did for me. My mom would have played grannie. We were always in touch growing up.
    The piece is very well written. I read it as if I was living, breathing and seeing the very things you described.

  9. I love your writing style. And I love this story … but kept wondering if you ever got to church.

  10. If you want a really great church experience in DC, go to St Augustine’s Catholic Church. It’s the first African-American Catholic Church in the US. That place is alive and on fire with the Holy Spirit. They are so open to visitors. It doesn’t matter if you’re of the same faith. Give it a try, and thanks for stopping by my blog. Your like of my most recent post means a lot. You are a talented writer.

  11. Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate it very much. Your descriptive writing is priceless. Thank you. I go to church to worship the Lord with others who know the same God. I need the support church offers me after being in the “world system” all-about-me all week. I loving serving others, but mostly my Lord and Savior.

  12. Great last line! Nice story, well told. I look forward to reading more!

  13. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Interesting read

  14. I enjoyed this story immensely. My children are still at the age where they get to do what I tell them, but not without a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth on their part.
    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  15. Enjoyed the story. This is an excellent way to keep track of your memories of loved one so they are never forgotten.

  16. Delightful. And it took me back to my childhood … a long trip by any estimation. 😉

  17. This is beautiful. great story too

  18. Delightfully well written. Your like on my (somewhat more virulent) post is all the more appreciable. I’ll be back for more.

  19. Appreciated this story — well conceived and well written. You know, part of the problem — backsliding aside — is that church gatherings rarely resemble what was envisioned and practiced in the first century. I do “regular church” twice a week myself, but I’m often left high and dry.

    The writings of Roger Thoman and compadres often call me to something better and more God-originated for my Sundays, etc. …although I haven’t had the courage to act on it recently. Something whispers to my soul that if church were less like church, fewer people would do all they could do avoid it. And then think of the joy in heaven with more people impelled toward God because they weren’t as distracted by institutionalisms!
    If interested, go to this blog and note the links provided: http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/2013/11/when-to-take-new-disciples-to-church.html

  20. peacequility

    Thanks- I needed an afternoon smile pick-me-up!

  21. Enjoyable writing. Love the subtle humor. Thanks.

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