jester journals

Weird Ramblings from a Warped Mind

The Funeral of Buford Johnson

As most of you probably know, I’m back on the road again living my dream of driving a private motor coach for a gospel group. What you may NOT know, however, is that it isn’t always a bed a roses. There are breakdowns, equipment malfunctions, and sometimes you’re just asked to do tough things. This was one of those times.

We were booked for a Sunday morning service at a tiny church in the small town of Murphy, MS. The pastor was a longtime friend of the boss and ensured us that although the First United Congregational African Methodist Baptist Non-Denominational Church of the Holy Sisters of Aplenty was small, the Spirit would be present and he ensured us that a good time would be had by all.

We arrived in the small metropolis that is Murphy, MS. And as we arrived, we were also departing… the town is just that small. I pulled the bus into the parking lot of the First United Congregational African Methodist Baptist Non-Denominational Church of the Holy Sisters of Aplenty and set about to getting ready for what I knew would be a Spirit-filled service.

And I’ll tell ya… I was not disappointed.

There was shoutin’… there was raised hands… there was “movement” (I hesitate to say dancin’ since we WERE in church). One lady even jumped a pew. Flat-footed. I kid you not. And this was all just during sound check. But it just continued over to the service itself and even escalated.

As the service wound up, the pastor came and explained a sticky situation to the boss. He was scheduled to perform a brief grave-side service that afternoon for a local homeless person at a small cemetery just outside of town. It seems that the local ministers group rotated the duty as necessary and he was up in the rotation. Problem was… he had lost his voice during the morning service with all the shoutin’ going on.

He convinced the boss to have the group go out in his place and sing a song. All they wanted was just some type of a Christian-type service.

And the boss agreed.

So we set off a little after noon looking for a small cemetery just outside of town for the 1:00pm service. And we looked. And we kept looking. Up and down roads… paved… dirt… gravel… some I wasn’t even sure of the type. Over hills… over dales… over the river… through the woods. I really expected to see Grandmother’s house. But we were diligent if nothing else.

I was ready to call it quits long ago when, just about 2:30, we happened to notice two gentlemen shoveling dirt into a hole. We had arrived. This HAD to be it.

I parked the bus and we all headed over to the grave. And let me tell ya… the folks let loose with an a cappella version of Amazing Grace that would knock your socks off. It literally gave me chills in the heat which was approaching 100 degrees. The two gentlemen had stopped shoveling as we approached and removed their hats as the singin’ commenced.

After two verses, the boss shook the hands of the two gentlemen and we all headed back to the coolness of the bus A/C. But just as I was walking away, I heard one of the men tell the other… “Dangedest thing I have EVER seen. And I’ve been digging septic tanks for right at 30 years.”

And that’s MY take…