This old church, fallen into disrepair, weatherbeaten boards on a sagging frame,
Decrepit and dying but like an old matriarch, still dignified,
Pained by her appearance yet proud to bear the scars of time.
She looks down at the encroaching weeds and fallen branches scattered among her pews,
Knowing that one day she will fall, become blind and be a vague memory.
But in her remembrances she sees the country people arriving in carriages on Sundays,
The union of young innocents embarking on a lifetime together.
She sees the picnics in the green grass that used to surround her,
Hears the laughter and feels the joy of people, the togetherness.
She remembers the grief and the ones who were laid to rest
And how she brought comfort to those left behind.
She sees the bustling crowds on Easter and Christmas
And sees the solitary visitors praying for strength and guidance.
She has heard the prayers of the wicked and the righteous, heard the music of the pump organ and the voices;
The baritones of gruff old farmers, the high tenors of the young men,
The quivering soprano vibratos of young maids turning into smooth altos;
The wages of time, experience, child-bearing and motherhood.
She has seen the widows and widowers confronting a new life alone,
She has seen children burying their parents and parents burying children.
She has learned many secrets and her will to live is strong, but she is failing.
This old church, remembered only in paintings and photographs
Now rests with the souls who once worshipped within her walls.
She was a reflection of us, the simple grandeur of country folk,
Proud and powerful without being ostentatious,
Strict and demanding yet open and forgiving.
This old church, if she could speak, would not tell tales of fire and brimstone,
She would say that the greatest thing is love.
She would harbor no hatred for those who let her fall,
She, more than anyone or anything, knows that life is fleeting, time is a riddle, and the world is ever changing.
She would say “shed no tears for me, for I have lived and have done my work”.
And there she lies, her bones in the cool grass, but her soul lives on with the souls of those who shared in her life.
It saddens me to see what she once was lying there in an abandoned field,
But even in death she teaches a lesson, live well, do your work, die with dignity.
I miss her but somehow I can see her, a vision almost like a resurrection,
And she is there, glistening in the soft afternoon light, young and whole again,
Singing the old songs.
And I hear laughter and her bell tolling,
Calling me home.
(dedicated to my mother, Jean Hobbs)