The Outhouse Preacher

When I was a kid growing up in the hills of Kentucky, we were members of a little Church. This particular Church held services only once each month because in a rural area, it was hard for everyone to make it every week. Sunday school for the kids started at 10:00 AM followed by three to four hours of singing and praising beginning at 11:30 AM. There would be a succession of preachers, each one more fired up and filled with more Holy Spirit than the one before. Each one preached until he fell down with exhaustion. A few deacons of the Church would lead a hymn between preachers. Songs like When We Shall Meet and I A Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow. sounded less like praise and more like mourning to a kid.

When the singing was done, the next preacher would take to the pulpit and preach until he dropped. Preaching, singing, preaching, singing, until the kids were either asleep or fidgeting uncomfortably on the hard wooden pews. There was no air conditioning in the summer, so the Sunday School teacher gave each of us kids a Jesus fan at the end of the lesson. Jesus had long, silky light brown hair, a neatly trimmed mustache and beard, and the softest most gentle blue eyes. I thought that picture of Jesus looked a little like a hippie. I made this remark to my mother once and was switched right good for voicing my observation.

One Sunday about two hours into Church, I had to go to the toilet. I tugged on Mother’s sleeve and whispered, “I have to go pee.” She gave me the look, and whispered that I should hurry back. I slowly walked down the center isle trying to be quiet, but with each step my black patent leather shoes click clacked on the wood floor. The old ladies with their hair pulled back in a severe bun on the back of their heads glared at me from the left side. Old men scowled at me from the right. In this Church, the women and children did not sit with the men. I looked up and behind waving Jesus fans, disapproving eyes were fixed directly on me. I really wanted to run, but I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other, slowly. Finally, I made it to the door. I darted out into the summer sun. The spring on the screen door pulled it shut again with a loud bang. I ran around the side of the Church toward the outhouse down the hill behind the Church.

I scooted and slid in my black shoes down the little hill. As I approached the outhouse I heard strange noises behind the door. Someone was in there, and it sounded to me like they were having a tough time making their toilet. I heard strange grunting and heavy breathing. I felt a bit odd, standing outside the door hearing that – like I was intruding, spying even. I sat down in patch of dandelions and milkweed plants a dozen feet from the outhouse door, and waited for the occupant to finish. After a while, the door to the outhouse opened and the Sunday School teacher and one of the preachers came out of the outhouse together, giggling like little kids and looking all sweaty. The Sunday School teacher’s pink flowered blouse was buttoned wrong, she missed one in the middle, and she had a run in her hose. The preacher pulled on his suspenders and zipped his fly. Then they saw me sitting in the weeds.

The preacher scolded me for eaves dropping, and the Sunday School teacher told me I was not to tell anyone I saw them in the outhouse together. I said nothing, and watched them walk back toward the Church together. When they were out of site, I dashed in, peed and then ran back to the Church.

When I slid into the pew beside my mother, she hissed “What took you so long?” I opened my mouth, then stopped – I better not tell, I thought. I just shrugged as if to say, “I don’t know.” Mother gave me a good pinch on the back of my arm as punishment for being gone so long from Church. For the next hour I sat there and watched the bruise on my arm develop from red to purple. Then the last preacher took up the pulpit. It was the preacher from the outhouse. He called down fire and brimstone, and the wrath of God on all of us sinners. He condemned the liars and the cheaters. He preached about his visions of hell and his dream of Heaven. He called on all those who had not accepted Jesus to come forward. A few people went up front, and he laid hands on them, and prayed for them and they were saved.

After Church, everyone congratulated the outhouse preacher for giving the best sermon of his life.

The Outhouse Preacher

H Maria Perry

Joined July 2007

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Artist's Description

Childhood Memories

OTHER STORIES IN THIS SERIES

Old Regular Baptist Hymns


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