Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Sunday sermon from ApacheDug’s Mountain


Perhaps one day I will simply vanish.  It may be more difficult to do in this day and age (especially when your identity is plastered all over the internet) but I hear people still manage to do it. 

My coworkers will scratch their heads and say “how can someone like Doug just disappear?  Did you try texting him?  See if his location has changed on his Facebook map.”  

And then the Steelers will win their first game of the season, and our department will get a couple new hires and I’ll be all but forgotten. 

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, perhaps in a small rural community that Google Maps hasn’t gotten around to yet, a man will show up with two battered suitcases in tow.  One filled with clothes, the other with books and a couple framed family photos and a radio.  He’ll take a room at the local boarding house, and someone will ask who he is, and Mrs. Jenko (the widow who runs the place) will say “Well, his name is Edwin Morris (he is going by his middle name now) and he’s from Pittsburgh and I don’t know much else.”

“He pays his bill on time and cleans up after himself in the kitchen, and doesn’t make a lot of noise.  Most mornings he takes off with one of his books and a bag lunch, but I don’t ask questions.  A man has a right to his privacy.”

Then someone will suggest Mrs. Jenko invite him to church Sunday morning, and she does.  Edwin has seen the church on his walks, and it reminds him of the one from his childhood, the same country church his parents were married in.  He says thanks, he’d like that.

That’s how it would happen on ‘The Waltons’ you know… if a stranger from the big city came, and decided he wanted to stick around.

A couple Mondays ago, I was on the bus coming home from work with an idea for my next blog, something extolling the awesomeness of my favorite tv show, ‘Breaking Bad’.  (The night before had been the series finale and I watched it breathless with excitement.  I just had to write something about it.)

What happened instead was that when I arrived home, I turned on the tv (as I normally do, just to have some noise) and was flipping through the channels and an episode of ‘The Waltons’ caught my eye.  It was just starting, and it hit me that it’s been many years since I watched this show.  I left it on while I looked through my mail and waited for 6:30, when Diane Sawyer would tell me the latest going-ons in Washington and the rest of the world.

The episode was titled “The Sermon” and begins with the local preacher making plans to leave for a week, and wants to know if John-Boy will stand in for him and deliver a sermon the following Sunday. 

John-Boy is honored and says yes, but worries to his family that he’s not up to the task. 

 Grandpa Walton (Will Geer) shares his own thoughts about his maker with John-Boy

As the week unfolds, we watch as John watches others go about their lives—his dad (who isn’t a churchgoer) at his saw mill, and how he watches proudly over his other children; Grandpa’s tender ways with his animals, and the way Grandma (Ellen Corby) clasps her worn Bible to her chest for comfort as she rocks in her chair—and yes I know it all sounds terribly hokey, but when John-Boy climbs onto a large outcropping atop Walton’s Mountain and ponders the world below and around him, I sat here transfixed. 

(Needless to say his heartfelt sermon of how God reaches people in different ways left me with a big lump in my throat.)

I never started that blog about Breaking Bad.  It was an awesome show (if you can ignore that gnawing in your chest that maybe you shouldn’t have enjoyed it so much, a schoolteacher who decides to manufacture and sell crystal meth).  What I did instead was set my dvr to record The Waltons—which airs daily on The ‘Up’ Channel—and I’ve been coming home from work each night for the last couple weeks and rediscovering this wonderful family all over again.

The cast (and shows creator Earl Hamner) was recently reunited for a reunion spread in Entertainment Magazine—pictured in front of the Waltons home, September 2013.  (Will Geer who played Grandpa Walton died in 1978; Ellen Corby passed in 1999.)

I’ll be honest here and admit that I didn’t really enjoy The Waltons in it’s heyday; we watched it off & on in the ‘70s (it was never ‘Must See TV’ like Happy Days or The Carol Burnett Show) and I can remember being bored with this assortment of actors and stories that just felt too ordinary.  Even their house seemed too simple, and plain.  And now those same things bring me real comfort, and joy inside.   



  1. I have never seen an entire episode of The Waltons. The show always seemed very corny to me. But darnit, Doug, after this post I might just check it out on the Up channel as well (can't say the same for Breaking much as everyone I work with and know raved about it, the storyline just doesn't appeal to me.) Good Morning America recently interviewed the cast of The Waltons for a reunion last week...I caught part of it before leaving for work. I bet it's on the GMA site or YouTube.

  2. Pam you're too kind--thanks very much for your comment! (About 'Breaking Bad', it really was an awesome show & I think you'd dig it.) As for the Waltons, yes it can get corny sometimes, and that's the reputation it had in the 70s, but I really am surprised what an honest, sincere show it was.

    (If you watch anything, rent "The Homecoming", the tv movie the series was based on--it's one of the best tv movies I've ever seen.)

    And yes, a friend sent me the GMA link with their recent reunion, just saw it yesterday--darn it, it brought a tear or two to my eyes! I hope you give it a chance Pam... thanks again :)


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