Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Blue, Hempstead County

Copyright 2008, from Abandoned Arkansas, by Jim King

You see the old church, and you think nothing of it. At first.

‘Did I see what I thought I saw?’ you say to yourself, and without thinking at all, you turn down the side street that leads to the parking lot.

Parking lot is a grand term for this field. No one has parked here for years.

No congregation, anyway.

The weeds brush your thighs as you walk across what was once a churchyard. You feel the soft sound and think, ‘Ahhh.’

What you saw, what drew you to it in the first place, isn’t the lines. It isn’t the Greek Revival austerity, the twin doorways, the perfectly preserved windows. It isn’t the massive belfry. It isn’t the wonderful location, set in the crook of the road, where you’d have to slow down just enough to want to visit the building.

What you saw was a wink of cobalt. A blue so intense, yet so elusive, that you had to know what made it happen.

And once alongside the church, you see.

God, but you want to be in there. (You chuckle at the inside joke. God indeed).

It’s not the draw of the church, and it’s not your desire to worship. You’ve been an atheist all your life, and the Christian Church holds nothing for you.

But this. Oh, this.

It’s the blue. It’s The Blue.

The windows are finely filigreed with lead and dark glass, and though some is of other colors, The Blue rules all.

You walk up to the one of the windows, and you see what made you come here.

The light comes from the windows on the other side, and though it comes from blue, and so loses much of its intensity, there is no doubt in your mind that the blue coming from the window colors your face. You feel it. You know it’s there. And the contentedness it projects makes you wonder.

Did the people inside experience this?

You feel bad for those that haven’t, and probably never will.

Some atheist you are.

from Jim's notes:
The church was in Columbus, in Hempstead County. A friend told me about Columbus, and I included it in my tour of southwest Arkansas, where I was nearly overwhelmed with the fecundity of abandonment. I’ve included no less than six stories inspired by stores, schools, homes, churches, storm cellars, and sheds from the town and its surrounds. Every window in the church was intact at the time of my visit in 2008. It was crushed by a falling tree (probably the one at the right of the photograph) six months after the shot was taken.

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