My uncle is a preacher, too. Everybody knows Pastor Gavinson from Glorifying Missions Missionary Baptist Church. He is the founder and pastor. The little white church sits on a family owned dirt lot in Havenlock Cross, Mississippi, about five miles northwest from where Haven Creek and Lock River intersect. Some Sundays, after morning church service, we loaded up the cream-and-black Buick to visit Pastor Gavinson and Aunt Sharon.
My sister Marsha and I sat in the back, pumping our fists at eighteen-wheelers passing by as we wondered what colors they would wear for their church anniversary. The last time we visited, Mother scolded us for laughing at their matching striped, electric-blue suits. That time, Aunt Sharon’s finger waves were hiding under a hat that looked like peacocks attacked it.
My other uncle on my mother’s side is a preacher, too. When attending the gray-bricked building where he preached, we packed an extra pair of stockings because the jagged brown wooden benches tore holes in the ones covering our skinny legs. No one could mistake the sounds of praise springing from the tambourine-clapping choir or the patent-pleather church shoes drumming on the wooden floor.
My eldest sister is a preacher, too. She’s short in stature but she speaks with so much authority, the birds chirp at their softest level the moment she opens her mouth.
From the time I was a little girl wearing puffballs, there was such an influence of preaching, churching, and sermonizing that it etched unforgettable times in my life. My preacher stepdad would take Marsha and me to the Waffle House on Sunday mornings so we wouldn’t be late for Sunday school. Mother Deveroux cooked all day Saturday so Sunday dinner would already be prepared. There were no extra play dates on Sunday because all my friends went to church. On career days, I dressed like a preacher and envisioned myself behind a pulpit, an encouraging sermon ready to deliver to a spiritually thirsty congregation.
But there was a different plan for my life. It’s not the congregation I encourage. It's not the members in the pews I am spiritually bound to. It's not even the pulpit I'm behind.
It’s the pastor … and I’m his wife.