My Spiritual Heritage - My Granny's Prayer House
Summer is winding down and although we will still have several weeks of warm weather, school has started back thus ending “summer.” While most of us enjoy those somewhat lazy days of summer that come with school being out, the older that I get the more that I realize that sometimes the summer season can cause a loss of focus.
When school starts back, many churches begin to see their attendance creeping back up because, for the most part, all of the traveling days are over. The routine of the schedule actually gives great stability to order in life.
I can remember that during the summer vacation, Mark and I would always go and spend a couple of weeks with my grandparents over in
My grandparents lived on a farm although when we went because of their age, they no longer actively “farmed” as they had done in the past. However, there was still a “farm” atmosphere because they still had chickens, cats and dogs, and huge gardens. Along with all of this, there were pear trees to harvest, tomatoes to can, blue berries to turn into jelly, and all of the other things that seem to go along with simple, country living. While the work was hard, there was something about the whole atmosphere that seemed to encourage good, clean living.
Early mornings were always a treat. Mark and I were accustomed to cold cereals (Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter flavor was always my favorite) and Pop Tarts for breakfast prior to school. But in
After the breakfast table was cleared (usually before 7), a flurry of activity begin. Since my granny was still cooking with a wood burning stove, “kindlin’” was still needed every single day. That was one of the chores left for my Papa. So as he got involved doing his jobs, my Granny would set about doing the things that she was obligated to do.
Her responsibilities generally involved taking care of a huge garden. To shield her from the sun, she would put on this large bonnet that had ties and would head to the garden with variety of garden tools like hoes, rakes, small shovels, and a small “washtub” was they were called. She also would take with her a “push-plow” which was the thing that always captured my interest.
There were times that she would begin with picking some of the produce from the massive garden. There were peas, butterbeans, tomatoes, squash, string-beans, and egg-plants. Other times she would begin by pulling the weeds out of the rows of the garden. All in all, her garden was always the neatest and cleanest that I have ever seen.
Another exciting thing for us to do was to feed the chickens. We would take a few ears of corn and go into the chicken yard and rub the corn on a tree and the old corn would chip off and fall to the ground. It seemed as if this production would cause a hundred chickens to gather up around your feet and eat this corn that was falling to the ground. Along with feeding the chickens, we also were able to gather the eggs. I would guess that at least a dozen eggs were gathered up every day.
Because there were so many eggs, my Granny would give them out at church. She would give them to the neighbors who lived across or down the road. She gave eggs to my great grandmother who lived just around the bend. In retrospect, I can now see why that a lot of eggs were used in cooking around her place.
While she was busy with this, my Papa would be cutting wood, mowing grass, or cleaning a fence-row. The mornings were filled with sweat and work. With this sweat and work, there always seemed to be order that gave way to an informal schedule that they had followed for years. Mondays were wash days. Tuesdays were spent in the “fruit” house which was a smaller building down behind the house that had shelves from ceiling to the floor. On these shelves were multiple Mason jars that contained “canned” fruits and vegetables. They would can more vegetables, fruits, or jellies on this day. Wednesdays were meant to “go to town.” Since they lived out in the country, the 10 mile trip to town was a big deal. Thursdays were spent visiting. Jesse Bradshaw would come by in the morning and she and my Granny would sit on the front porch and talk and swing. Much of their conversation was always about God, Scripture, and His provisions for the simple things in their lives. Uncle Julius would drive up after lunch in a 1940’s vehicle of some kind (this was the mid seventies) and they would spend half the afternoon seemingly talking about their main concern which was getting home before dark. Fridays were spent picking up around the yards and house in case some visitors came by on Saturday or Sunday.
Around eleven in the mornings, my Granny and Papa would begin to make their way back to the house. At the “back porch,” there was a place to wash up at a sink. I can remember the water being very cold as it ran out of the spigot into the sink. There wasn’t a fancy handle, just a pipe coming out of the wall that ran through a brass spigot. In the sink was a wash basin that remained for all of my years going over there during the summers. Hanging from a small towel holder on the wall was a towel that somehow always remained clean no matter how dirty that we were. There was also a “dipper” hanging from a nail in the wall that served as a community container for anyone who desired a drink. Everybody drank out of it. You would simply take it down, help yourself and then hang it back up. Amazingly, I do not remember ever getting sick drinking behind someone else.
Lunch, or dinner as they called it, was a huge production, even more so than breakfast. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, garden vegetables, fried “hoe-cake” and sweet tea every day! My Granny had another tradition while she was cooking and that was listening to WAMI from
Then we would eat! All of this food was accompanied with home-canned pickles, relish, hot chow-chow from peppers, and sometimes my Papa would put syrup on his butterbeans. After this, the table would be cleared, dishes washed and dried, left-overs put in the safe. The safe was an upright cabinet that had screen doors on it. Several shelves were present and all of the food would be put into the safe and small clean handtowels would be placed over each bowl or plate to protect it from any flies if they managed to get into the cabinet. If someone happened to show up in the middle of the afternoon and wanted something to eat, it would not take long before a feast would be sitting before them.
As all of this “dinner” business was completed, the most important part of my Granny’s day would begin. My Papa would retreat to his bedroom for a two or three hour nap and my Granny would go out the back door and go down to her “prayer” house as she called it.
This little building was perhaps 8X12. The walls were not paneled. She had collected cardboard boxes from the Quik Chek grocery store in
Time would pass rapidly for her and not so fast for Mark and I. It was nothing for her to spend 1 ½ to 2 hours in prayer, every single day of the week except for Sundays. Sunday was the only day that she did not go to the “prayer” house. The memories of those summer afternoons will periodically replay themselves out in my mind as I get older. I can only wonder how many total hours of her life were spent in the place of prayer. Furthermore, knowing the power of prayer, I can again only wonder how much impact that her prayers are having on the revival that many are enjoying today.
I have said on numerous occasions that prayer is hard work and yet the impact of this “work” is the most prevailing and under-used weapon available to the church today.
The image of the “prayer” house was drawn by my second cousin, Kenny Daughtry. He was my Granny’s nephew.