The Big Era
Fall of 1955
Johnny was a wee lad growing up in the hills of eastern Tennessee. “I love to hyur them whippoorwills sangin’ in the early mornin’ on my way to the schoolhouse. Thar ain’t no purtier sound I can thank of.” He whistled in tune with the birds as he sauntered down the narrow path in the woods, continuing his thoughts. “Miss Lindsey has the purtiest smile I ever seed. I’m right glad she’s my teacher, and I thank this’ll be a good school yur,” he mused.
Daddy told all the children that morning, “She’ll plum do her best ta teach you little rascals readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic, but it’s her first yur a-teachin’. She ain’t much mor’n a youngin’ herself.”
After introducing the spelling words that morning, Miss Lindsey pulled Johnny aside. “Johnny, I think I might’ve made an error in allowing you to start school so soon. You’re a little younger than most of the pupils…” Her northeastern accent fascinated the little boy.
He interrupted, mimicking her dialect, “What does ‘era’ mean, teacher?”
“That’s a good question, Johnny. We’ll talk about it later.”
“Whur did y’all come from, teacher,” he drawled. “I ain’t never hyurd nobody talk like ‘at bafor.”
“And your way of speaking will take some getting used to also, Johnny.” Sighing and walking to the chalkboard, she sent Johnny back to his seat.
She sat behind her desk during recess with elbows propped up and her hands rubbing her forehead as she prayed for wisdom. An innocent voice from the doorway interrupted, “Miss Lindsey?”
“Susie said ‘era’ means mistake?”
“Well, Johnny, ‘error’ does mean mistake. Why are you worried about that?”
“You said ya thought ya made a ‘era’ an’ I was just a-wonderin’ why ya thank ‘at? I’m a purty smart feller fer my age,” he said, hands dug deep in his over-all pockets as he teetered back and forth staring at the floor.
Miss Lindsey’s face glowed with a tender smile. “Why, Johnny, I believe you are a very smart child. I’ll have to stay on my toes to keep ahead of you.”
Miss Lindsey taught Johnny until he graduated, with honors, from eighth grade. “Johnny, in a few years you’ll finish college. What will you study as you begin a new era in your life?”
He grinned the silly grin she had grown to love through the years. “Now Teacher, are you telling me I’m about to make mistakes in my future or is this a different kind of ‘era’ of which you speak?”
“Both, I reckon.” They laughed together, sharing a mutual understanding that he learned his ‘three r’s’ and she learned to adapt to life in the hills.
“Actually, Miss Lindsey, I plan to be a preacher. I’ll be very careful not to make many mistakes. A preacher has to live by the Book, you know.”
Pastor John McDaniels, ready to begin his sermon, noticed a small stir in the back of the congregation as a deacon ushered in a sweet-looking lady visitor in her late sixties, he guessed. However, he focused on the message that was heavy on his heart.
“Today I will speak about ‘eras’. Back in the hills of Tennessee my first grade teacher from New England thought she made an ‘era’ in permitting me to start school so young. Of course she meant error, but her accent made it sound like ‘era’ to me.” The crowd chuckled.
“As Christians, we sometimes make errors in our lives because we fail to comprehend God’s message to us. In His Word, He instructs us to live righteously and please Him. Some interpret that to mean live riotously, doing whatever pleases them. Often our hearing dulls as He speaks to us. He tells us to live holy lives for Him, and we live wholey or entirely for ourselves. We get colorblind now and then too, believing there is really such a thing as a white lie.
Don’t follow the world into Satan’s trap of sinful living in the new millennium. Let’s all consider possible errors of this new era and choose the straight and narrow path that brings God’s blessings to our lives.”
“I’m glad to see you are still concerned about ‘eras’, Johnny,” his unexpected visitor praised him as she exited the church with his family. “You’ve done me proud and I reckon God is mighty pleased with y’all, too.”
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