Sepulga Baptist Church is a three-room building off County Highway 43. I visited the rural congregation one Sunday. I listened to an old man deliver the kind of sermon that sounded like Karo syrup on hand-cut biscuits.
The kind of preaching without microphones.
This church has been here since before the invention of television. They have nine and a half members.
The preacher took me to Shoney’s after church. He bought my breakfast, then he filled my truck with gas.
I asked why he was being so good to a stranger.
He said, “‘Cause this world needs more good.”
Andalusia, Alabama—my friend and I were at Dairy Queen. We’d just left an early wedding. He stood on the sidewalk, smoking.
A feral cat meandered past us.
My pal tip-toed to his truck and removed a can of cat food. He opened the container with a pocketknife and set it on the curb.
I asked why he had pet food in his vehicle.
He explained, “My granny used to feed any animal she saw, even squirrels. Was a habit I picked up when she died.”
I asked if he missed his granny.
“So bad it hurts,” he said.
Birmingham, Alabama—I was eighteen. He was riding a bike, carrying a backpack. He was old. He smelled as ripe as a laundry bin.
He saw us leave the restaurant, he rode toward us. He said, “‘Scuse me boys, you got any spare change?”
I only had quarters—I was notorious for being low on silver.
Not my pal’s brother. He had a hundred-dollar bill. It was his gas money. He gave it to the man.
“No,” the man said, “I can’t take this, it’s too much.”
My friend’s brother added, “If you don’t take it, I’m just gonna throw it in the garbage.”
The man took it, then gave us parting gifts in return. He gave my pal a women’s wristwatch. I got a monkey made out of a wool sock.
My friend offered the homeless man his hand. But he pulled him into himself. They embraced.
Look, I don’t know why I’m telling you this. You’ve got a busy life, and God knows there are plenty of voices out there talking to you. You don’t need another.
But experts are telling you the wrong things. They tell you about death, murder, terrorism, politics, and gluten.
They worship pop-stars. They call idiots wisemen—then give them talk-shows. Sometimes, it seems like common sense is becoming less common.
I suppose, I wish these folks could shake hands with a kid who feeds feral cats for kicks. I wish they could visit a nine-member church in the woods.
And meet the white-haired man who shows up early on Sunday mornings. A man who believes in something.
Who fills your truck with gas just to prove it.