Returning from a week in Texas a couple weeks ago last Sunday night, I mentioned having made a couple of unexpected connections during the week. Here's the first:
Having led music at Second Baptist Church in Memphis July 17, my flight to Texas for the Baylor Alleluia Conference was out of Memphis rather than Nashville... but not until 6:50 p.m., Sunday evening. We were through with church before high noon and what does one do in near 100 degree Memphis for the next 5-6 hours when hotel check-out is 12 o'clock?
My cell phone had died, so I found a Verizon store who put a charge on my phone while I walked across the street for lunch. (Never mind that I had gone through those motions of charging the phone all night at the hotel.) I honestly can't remember what I did the first half of the afternoon other than find a place to change from my Sunday clothes and drive to the outskirts of the airport to watch a few FedEx planes take off. But apparently Sunday is not a busy cargo day, so that didn't last long. Oh well, I found the long-term parking spot, gathered up my gear, and headed to the airport. Thinking to myself, "It's already 3:30, so we'll be boarding in only three hours." WRONG!
As is my custom, I check my luggage rather than carry it on so I use the wait time to get in a walk. Security lines almost nil and having a pre-pass, I walked right through security. Now, it's barely 4:00, so I strike out on my walk. I've seen every inch of every concourse at the Memphis terminal at least four times. About halfway through the third lap, I noticed the monitor that reports my 6:50 Southwest flight is now 7:25. Oh good, another 35 minutes to kill.
Some two hours into the wait, and being somewhat of a wood-worker, a handsome wall display of finished slats of various kinds of wood caught my eye so I stopped to have a closer look. Having nothing better to do and plenty of time, I read the labels, compared grains, and was conducting a fairly thorough inspection when I became aware that someone had walked up beside me to do the same thing. After a bit, she said, "Hmmh, they don't have any madrone?"
"Did you say madrone? I've never heard of that."
"Yeah, we have it in Texas."
“Texas? I grew up in Texas and have never heard of madrone. Where in Texas?”
“Comfort. It’s in the Hill Country.”
“Comfort? I got married in Kerrville (19 miles away).”
“No kidding. What is madrone?”
She began to describe madrone as her son, entering Baylor this fall, walked on toward our gate.
“So do you live in Comfort?”
“No, we live in San Antonio.”
“I grew up just south of San Antonio. Have you lived there all your life?”
“No, I used to live here.”
It turns out that Karen is the daughter of the late Bob Troutman, once pastor of Prescott Memorial Baptist Church in Memphis in the 60s. He was one of only two white Baptist pastors who participated in the march of the sanitation workers during the height of the civil rights movement in Memphis that led to the death of Martin Luther King. The other white Baptist pastor was Brooks Ramsey, who was then pastor of Second Baptist Church where I had led music that morning. She and her son had been in Memphis that weekend for centennial celebration of Prescott Memorial Baptist Church which has now merged with Shady Grove Presbyterian Church. (Somewhere along the line, Prescott had called a woman – Nancy Sehested – as pastor at which time they were disfellowshipped by the Shelby Baptist Association.)
We ventured down toward our gate and arriving noticed that our 6:50, 7:25 flight was now 7:55. UGH. But, it did provide time for the three of us to eat a bite and for me to learn more about her father. Preparing for the anniversary trip that weekend, Karen had gone through a box of her father's papers, sermons, writings, et cetera, in her attic which blessed her again. I asked her if any of the history of those two pastors had been written and she didn't know. So if any history buffs out there know anything about that, I'd like to hear from you. Seems like it would make a wonderful doctoral project for someone.
Karen said they sang the hymn below at their anniversary event that morning. It’s a civil rights hymn:
Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
What a delight to have that kind of serendipitous experience along the way. Stay tuned for another.