The Outhouse

I remember outhouses...Every August as a child, I would go and stay with my grandparents during the week of campmeetin’. It was an old time revival held in an open arbor beside the wooden, white-washed country church. There was a morning service, and a noon service (which included a "dinner on the ground" lunch with some of the best food you could imagine) and an evening service. The afternoons were spent shelling peas, throwing horseshoes, swimming in the lake, and trying to wait as long as possible to avoid the creaky hinged doors that hid the dark, endless holes filled with flies at the outhouse! The “best” visiting preachers, I concluded, were those who were so consumed with the holy spirit that they could be heard all the way to the back pews and beyond even without a hearing aid! Paper funeral home fans on sticks flapped, bees always swarmed during prayers, and four part harmony echoed for miles. Most nights, I’d fall asleep on the way home and wake up in my grandma’s big four poster feather bed. It seemed that I barely closed my eyes before she was calling me to do it all over again. Oh, for the days of campmeetin’! I visited the old church grounds a couple of years ago. They still have revivals, but they are in the new indoor, air conditioned sanctuary. The “dinner on the ground” was in the new kitchen with very few home made dishes or fresh, home grown vegetables. The row of outhouses had long been bulldozed for a parking lot, and the lake seemed to have gotten smaller. As I made my way down to the old abandoned arbor, I gazed up the hill to the old cemetery that was now home to so many that I had known and loved. I brushed the dust off one of the old pews, and for one brief moment I thought I heard a chorus of "In the Sweet By 'n By." Campmeetin’ and outhouses…they both are etched in my memory, and my life is richer for having experienced both !

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