Grit Blogs > Country at Heart

The Long Walk to Church: Part 1

Country at HeartWe lived about 3 miles from our church and loved going there, especially on "big" event Sundays. My father went to church in the “old country" near Emmett, where he grew up. We always had a car, but sometimes, if there was a "big” day at both dad's church and ours, he needed the car more than we did. So, if we wanted to go to church, we had to walk.

There was Sunday school every Sunday, and on first Sundays there was a morning service. On special Sundays, we had dinner on the ground between the morning and the afternoon services. However, we didn’t take those long walks to church because we were starving for a delicious meal. We were simply church-going folks whether or not food was served.

 

I can't say how many times we walked to church, because similar experiences seem to fade into one. I do remember, though, that we did, on occasion, have to walk to church. For us country folks, walking is no big deal. It is just as natural to us as water is to a fish. When you live in the country, you walk all the time even if you aren’t wearing comfortable tennis shoes, toting an umbrella or wearing hats to shield your head from the simmering hot sun. So, if we wanted to go to church and the car wasn’t available, we simply got dressed and hit the road.

Though we were poor country folks, we were well-dressed and wanted to be as fresh as daisies when we strolled into church. So on each walking-to-church Sunday, we left the house as early as possible so we didn't have to rush. If we walked too fast, we would be drenched with sweat by the time we got there. While we could somewhat take our time or even rest under a welcoming shade tree at about the midway point, still we had to pace ourselves so we would have enough time to get to church before the first service started. However, regardless to how early we left home walking, because of the distance, getting there in time for Sunday school was out of the question.

When we left home, we headed west, walking at a steady pace and taking in whatever scenery there was to take in. There weren’t many houses along our route, but at whatever was there to gaze at, other than those ubiquitous Arkansas pines, we took a long, hard look. With walking being such a slow pace, our looking time was longer than if we had been riding in a car, where everything goes by quickly.

After about a mile, we turned left at MrTom Rainer's house and then traveled south for another mile down a lane that had plum orchards and black berry patches galore but not a single house. Walking on country roads is nothing like walking on smooth, even, city sidewalks. Those rocky, unpaved trails are about as rough and as dusty as they can be. That was especially true of that particular stretch. It was the sandiest road I’d ever walked on, almost like walking on a beach. Such terrain is not conducive for fast walking. Even if you aren’t wearing dressy shoes, walking on soft, shifting sand slows you down considerably. The dirt is loose, like finely-sifted flour, and your feet sink down into it without any effort. Thus, it takes longer to traverse than when walking on compressed dirt.

country road
Photo by Adobe Stock/johnsroad7