I note that I have failed to make an entry for the month of April, and all with good reason! There was simply no time for blogs when I had to travel to Virginia! All who follow on Facebook know that I was invited again to attend the spring conference of Virginia Church Librarians Association at Eagle Eyrie. That is the Virginia Baptist Conference Center at Lynchburg, VA. I was there for the weekend of the seventeenth.
Need I add that I taught storytelling on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday led the devotional period. Since I am now in my 97th year, you may well imagine that preparing for this was time consuming, and therefore I did not make a blog entry for April.
The visit to Virginia included visits with relatives and friends. I also had the fabulous opportunity to go back to my home church for a visit with my own Sunday school class, and then on to the sanctuary for the worship service. The church I refer to is Derbyshire Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. A wonderful church that has retained the traditional worship service and that means this: THE CHOIR IS ROBED, THE HYMNBOOKS ARE IN THE PEWS, THERE ARE NO SCREENS UP THERE WITH THE WORDS MISSPELLED, THE CHOIR LOFT WAS FULL AND THE ORCHESTRA WITH MANY INSTRUMENTS, THE CONGREGATION STOOD TO SING LUSTILY UNDER THE WORSHIP LEADER WHO WAS EXCELLENT, ALL OF THE SERVICE FOLLOWED THE THEME OF THE PASTOR’S SERMON TEXT, “I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD”. THE PASTOR’S SERMON WAS SCRIPTURAL AND HAD MANY ILLUSTRATIONS FROM LIFE THAT MADE THE WORDS RELEVANT FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIAN. THE PIANIST PLAYED A LOVELY ARRANGEMENT OF FAMILIAR HYMNS DURING THE OFFERING. THERE WAS NO APPLAUSE!!!! I WAS PLEASED AS PUNCH THAT THE NEW PASTOR HAD NOT CHANGED THE PREVIOUS MINISTER’S TRAINING FOR US THAT THE WORSHIP SERVICE IS FOR GOD’S GLORY AND NOT FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT OF THE CONGREGATION!! THANK GOD WE STILL HAVE TRADITIONAL WORSHIP SERVICE AT DBC, RICHMOND, VA! THE CONGREGATION IS GROWING. That shows there are still plenty of people who want to find a church like the country church they grew up in. Since I left Richmond, in 2007, only when I come home to visit do I find the traditional service.
Most mix the traditional music with the contemporary, and use the screens. I am always glad to get back to my home church which holds a non-conformist view of the meaning of a worship service when we appear as His people before Him and acknowledge Him as the Head of the spiritual body of believers world-wide. Of course, I have learned to adapt to the contemporary forms that are popular now throughout all the Southern Baptist Convention. I had to pray it through with the Lord and He taught me to think of it as He does, and recognize the different cultures that are represented, however, being ninety-six means that I was growing up in the early years of the twentieth century, and it was mid years that I was married and child bearing and latter half of the century I was given over to the Lord in complete dependence on Him. I was engaged full-time in Bible study and teaching the application of Truth through storytelling and learning all the time through the avenues provided for learning and growing in my own church which was a Southern Baptist church and fully operating with the programs that were coming from our own denomination! Naturally, these teachings were deep and lasting. Mother’s favorite verse was, “Be not weary in well-doing for in due season you will reap, if you faint not.” That’s the KJV of that verse! Still it is just as understandable as the modern versions—If you persevere in your faith, you will reap the rewards. At ninety-six I can say without any doubt that the Lord’s will is good and pleasant and perfect. I am happy in my faith and ready to share it with everyone I come in contact with.
Now I return to the May the month of roses. Roses love the coolness and the warmth of May, and they thrive. Mother’s roses were her joy and pride. She loved growing them and what a beautiful flower they are! I am always happy to see the buds that are telling me they are on the way. Frank loved the yellow and we had a Peace rose in our border that measured six inches across the blossom which was a pale yellow with a pale pink center. I cut one of the most stunning ones and carried it to my pastor’s secretary for his office. He was amazed! Then one that my mother loved was a variegated one which had a red and white blossom. The shape of the rose as it unfolded was a curled back type and just kept opening up and folding back! Lovely! That was a 1928-29 rose that she had in her collection. I carried white roses for my wedding flowers and wore the coral colored rose in going away. What I miss more than anything is the fragrance which the breeders have completely eliminated from the plant today and there not a trace of the beautiful perfume that was the real charm of that flower. Every weekend my sisters readied the house for the company that always filled it on Sunday. After it was all lovely and all the windows open with the curtains gently flapping in the mountain breeze, they went to the yard and filled our small wash tubs full of roses. They brought them to the kitchen table and began arranging them in vases for the parlor, the bedrooms, the dining room and even the kitchen! Mother would say, “Put a bouquet of Maxine’s Dorothy Perkins and the Baby Ramblers in my kitchen on my work table.” Oh, I was so proud to hear her call that out, and she knew how to make us all feel great. The girls were proud that she loved their work, and I was proud that she called for my choice of roses which were planted by the smokehouse. The main thing that I remember was the wonderful way the house smelled on entering, and the company that arrived on Sunday mornings were enthralled by it. We marveled because, you see, after our house burned down, we did not have any fancy furniture, and it was just the immaculate cleaning, the wall paper that was tastefully used, Mother’s needlework for the bedspreads and quilts, the curtains that flapped in the mountain breeze and the perfume of the roses—all working together gave the house a beautiful face and people did not notice that the bedsteads were the then unfashionable brass and iron.
Now I come to the end of the May blog entry. This is the month for Mother’s Day. I will put a little poem here in memory of my mother, and to honor all the precious mothers that I know who are in my family and circle of friends. I omit the first few verses for lack of space and show the verse that is the favorite of so many people!
The Reading Mother
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I HAD A MOTHER WHO READ TO ME!
And now for the all time favorite of many of you who have wondered what happened to this old poem! Here it is.
ROCK ME TO SLEEP
Backward, turn backward, O time in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!
Mother come back from the echoless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore.
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep,
Rock me to sleep, Mother—rock me to sleep!
Backward, flow backward, oh tide of the years!
I am so weary of toil and of tears—
Toil without recompense, tears all in vain—
Take them and give me my childhood again!
I have grown weary of dust and decay—
Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away;
Weary of sowing for others to reap; —
Rock me to sleep, Mother, –rock me to sleep!
Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue,
Mother, O Mother, my heart calls for you!
Many a summer the grass has grown green
Blossomed and faded, our faces between;
Yet with strong yearning and passionate pain,
Long I tonight for your presence again.
Come from the silence so long and so deep,—
Rock me to sleep Mother—Rock me to sleep!
(Two verses omitted)
Mother, dear Mother, the years have been long
Since I last listened your lullaby song;
Sing, then and unto my soul it shall seem
Womanhood’s years have been only a dream.
Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace
With your light lashes just sweeping my face,
Never hereafter to wake, or to weep;–
Rock me to sleep, Mother, rock me to sleep!
Elizabeth Akers Allen
BEST LOVED POEMS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Doubleday and Company, Inc. 1936.