I had stayed overnight in a nearby town and had just arrived in time to walk over to the little country church. I would be crossing Cedar Creek. I wanted to write a human interest piece on this long awaited, newly constructed covered bridge built by Jacob Maddox. It was the first morning it would be crossed to attend church on the other side.
As I walked over it, I welcomed the cool breeze blowing through the now shaded walkway. The trickling sound of the creek below was peaceful as was the site that met me on the other side.
Standing within an imperfect wooden fence, was the white church. I could see little pieces of chipped paint; my eyes were drawn to the wooden cross above. The windows were red and blue stained and a row of mighty oaks towered behind. All around were colorful wild flowers lying on uneven lawn. A cemetery was beside it.
Bustling around the church was a sea of home sewn white shirts and black britches worn by men and boys; all the men wore hats. The girls had on homemade dresses, and wore lacey ribbons in their hair. The women had bonnets on and were carrying hand held hands. I thought, 'it will be hot in there'.
The bell rang and they all started up the primitive stone steps leading to the double wooden doors; the pastor shook their hands as they walked in; the men respectively removed their hats.
Immediately when I stepped onto the uneven planked floors, the aroma of old wood hit me; I realized that this church had been there a very long time. I felt like I was in another time.
I sat down on a back row pew. The wooden seat was uncomfortable, as was the sun that was casting its warm rays upon my shoulder. I was relieved when a little girl handed me a one of those paper fans. As I fanned myself, I listened to a small choir sing a couple of familiar old hymns. The pastor preached a nice message and the service was over.
I remained seated for awhile to observe the people as they walked by me to exit. I noticed that they stopped to talk to a man that had remained seated as well. I thought this must be Jacob Maddox, the man who had built the town the new bridge.
The man finally got up and was approached by a little girl tugging at his pant leg. She held her doll up to him and I heard her ask him to kiss the doll. He did, and then looked up at me with a genuine smile; He gave me a warm greeting.
I asked him if he was Mr. Maddox, but he said he was Will Settles. He told me Jacob was no doubt already outside; dabbing into Miss Eileen’s delicious fried chicken. He walked me out to introduce me to the man I would be writing about, but I found Will more interesting. I asked him if he had been walking over the old bridge to get to church. He said he walked over it like everyone else, but that it would be much easier now with the new one.
I talked to Will more than Jacob that day. Will told me that people beat themselves up with their own minds. He told me,‘I may not walk fast, but as long as I can walk, I will walk.’
I realized that what made Will so intriguing to all the others was that fighting spirit of his. It wasn’t physical strength that got him across that old bridge every Sunday for worship, it was inner strength, it was true grit, and every time he walked over, he was ministering. Will Settles ministered to others by walking. With every step, he made his confession; *‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.’
When all the others witnessed this faithful feat each Sunday, they were inspired; inspired that they too, could overcome overwhelming odds.
Will Settles walked slumped over; Will Settles walked slow, Will Settles walk with a cane, but Will Settles walked tall, because Will Settles walked by faith.
That morning, I decided that Will Settles was the better subject for my human interest story. ‘Sunday Morning Grits’
*Philippians 4:13 (KJV)
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