Buried Alive

“Hard to believe now gunboats in the Roanoke. Fierce river fightin’. They had to make coffins out of pews from Grace Church. Buried men in their own pew.”

~Man at a filling station, Blue Highways

Maybe now isn’t the best time to write my thoughts on the above sentence. Maybe I’ll sentence myself to a sort of writers damnation for not taking the time to let those words be planted, cultivated and harvested at a later date, at a time when my mind isn’t so entrenched in the fog that comes from just waking and rising from my mat on the floor.

Cultivation and damnation aside, here are some thoughts.

I was dead in the pews. In the evenly spaced rows of polished wood bleachers sat the congregation bolt upright in their suits and dresses. Sinner, Saint, Sinner, Saint. They sat in order according to their works or lack thereof. An entire sea of faces waiting for the preacher to begin his heavenly speal. Fingers poised above a holy book, its wafer thin pages telling the story of a desert people lost and found and then lost again. 66 books neatly packaged and printed into one, the Oreo of the Christian faith, white pages squished between a black top and bottom.

That’s one thought, only a memory now. And at some point between that memory and now I was resurrected, brought back from the dead. Perhaps it was the long summer hikes through the ancient fir and cedar, thick moss covering everything that didn’t move quick enough to escape its slow green invasion. Or maybe it was nights spent in smoky pubs downtown where conversations had over pitchers of dark beer did more within me than just intoxicate my mind.

If its answers you’re looking for they’re easy to find. No, what I meant to say is you don’t have to travel far to find those who think they have the answers. In this age of six-step conversion programs you’re almost sure to lose the thing your soul needs most: mystery.

For me, right now, the “answer” isn’t as important as the question. I'm afraid that if I accept the “answer” all of the questions will cease, the questions that really matter, and then you’ll find me sitting yet again upright in the pews, dead as the wood beneath my lifeless body.


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