my church

I’ve cussed on a Sunday
I’ve cheated and I’ve lied
I’ve fallen down from grace
A few too many times
But I find holy redemption
When I put this car in drive
Roll the windows down and turn up the dial

Can I get a hallelujah

Can I get an amen

Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church

When Hank brings the sermon
And Cash leads the choir
It gets my cold cold heart burning
Hotter than a ring of fire
When this wonderful world gets heavy
And I need to find my escape
I just keep the wheels rolling, radio scrolling
‘Til my sins wash away

Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church

Songwriter/singer Maren Morris and I belong to the same church – except she and co-songwriter Michael James Ryan Busbee found their church riding in a car while I found mine driving along the back roads of Montgomery and Grimes Counties in the cab of an old 2004 Dodge Dakota pickup truck when I came home a second time to Texas from my home base with Pretty in South Carolina for four years in 2010 – 2014 to care for my mother who struggled with dementia. Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

Growing up in rural Richards, Texas in the early 1950s the First Baptist Church was my family’s experience with God the Father providing salvation of souls from sin, redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ the Son, ongoing forgiveness through the presence of God the Holy Ghost. However, each family member didn’t experience the Holy Trinity in exactly the same way which added to my confusion as I listened to the sermons of preachers who were absolutely 100% convinced they were giving their congregation a lifeline to escape the burning fires of hell following death. My daddy and mama believed that message as long as they lived. Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

On the other hand, my paternal grandmother Ma roasted the preacher every Sunday dinner after church like Trevor Noah roasted President Joe Biden at the 2022 White House Correspondents’ Dinner last night. She was quick to criticize biblical interpretations she found hypocritical, particularly when the preacher talked about sins of the flesh but paid too much attention in her opinion to a certain attractive woman he often visited when her husband was away at work. Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

My mother was thrilled when I enrolled in a Southern Baptist seminary to do post graduate work in church music and theology in the early 1970s. She told me she gave me to God on the day I was born in 1946. God would do miracles through me, she added. Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get, well maybe, let’s leave it at hallelujah because she was appropriately horrified when I left her church and its homophobia too many years later. Now can I get an amen?

I’ve cussed on a Sunday and every other day of the week. I’ve cheated and I’ve lied in more than one relationship in my younger and middle age years – I know I’ve been undeserving of grace a few too many times. But I found holy redemption in those Texas years when I put the truck in drive, rolled the windows down, and turned up the radio dial. When I played the country music legends station I found my soul revival as I sang every verse. Yeah, I guess that was my church. Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

Tonight the Country Music Hall of Fame will have two new names added in their awards ceremony, Naomi and Wynonna Judd, better known as simply The Judds. Unexpectedly mother Naomi died yesterday from “mental illness” according to a family statement. For those of us who are fans of The Judds and their music the loss is a painful one. I saw them perform here in Columbia in the 1990s – I can’t remember the year, but I do remember being so taken with them that a friend and I drove to Charlotte, North Carolina for that same concert the next night. The Judds are members of my church.

Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in family life, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to my church

  1. Bob says:

    I’m not much of a country music fan, but I always loved the way Wynonna and Naomi sounded together. Sad day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Luanne says:

    Hallelujah! Amen! Love this song!
    So sad about Naomi. The struggle with mental illness can have such tragic results.
    I found my church in a kelly green and gogo boot white vinyl 1969 Pontiac Bonneville and its radio!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hallelujah and Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

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