The Jericho Wall
“Hurry, Mary Catherine,” called Mother, “We must get the table set and finish fixing supper before Papa and the boys come in from the fields.”
Even as she hurried about taking dishes from the cupboard, Mary Catherine was in turmoil. “How can I ask her?” she agonized? “The whole family has always attended every night of the Spring Revival.”
Pausing only long enough to brush her long brown hair from her eyes, Mary Catherine bustled around setting the table, trying to stay so busy she wouldn’t have time to think and lose her resolve. Finally, grabbing the last of her courage, she blurted out. “Mother, would it be all right for me not to go with you’all to Church on Friday night? Mrs. Massie has arranged for our class to go to Asheville on the activity bus. Johnny is going and he will bring me home.”
“Child, whatever has gotten into you? Why, what would it look like if you wasn’t there with all the rest of your kin? Everybody in Pinson Cove knows this here family supports our church just as much as we can, and that means we’ll always be there whenever there’s preaching to be heard.”
“Yes, Mother, I know. But I’ve been to services Sunday, and last night, and we’re going tonight and Thursday. Would it be so awful if I missed that night?”
Her mother turned. Like a hawk, she stood tall and gaunt, hands on her hips, staring at Mary Catherine with fierce eyes. “Just what is this doings you’re so all fired-up to go to? I can’t imagine anything more important that going with your family to God’s house!”
Mary Catherine wiped her hands on her apron. She hesitated, fearful to tell her mother, knowing full well how the wrong words might set her mother off down a road from which she could not be turned. However, there was no backing down now.
“We’re going to the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium…”
“Thomas Wolfe!” her mother interrupted angrily, “He’s that low-life writer they’s so proud of over there in Asheville, ain’t he? For the life of me I can’t understand why they would name something after him. Anything they’s having there can’t be no good.”
Mary Catherine cringed. If her mother got riled up over the name, there was little chance for her plan. Bravely she continued. “It’s just part of the Civic Center, Mother. There is a touring group from New York. Mrs. Massie has arranged for our class to get reserved seats. This is the first time this group has come to Asheville since 1980, almost six years ago.” Seeing
the frown on her mother’s face, she rushed on. “I have money for my ticket saved.”
The frown on her mother’s face deepened, and her voice changed to a more suspicious tone. “Just what exactly is this here fancy group from New York? I can’t imagine why anybody would
want to go hear singing by people not from this part of North Carolina. Why, we got some of the best singers round here you could ever want to hear.”
In a more belligerent voice she continued. “This ain’t no gospel singin group from one of them high-falutin church schools up north, is it? You know what we think about them so-called Christians. Why, they don’t hardly even believe in the Bible. I swear they shouldn’t even be allowed to call them churches, for they’s no better than a bunch of…”
Mary Catherine knew she had to get her mother stopped now or she would never even get an answer. To interrupt her mother was almost a sin in her family, but she chanced it.
“It’s not a singing group, Mother. It’s a dance troupe from the New York City Ballet.”
“DANCE! You don’t mean to tell me you’re thinkin you might run off to Asheville to see a bunch of half-naked, Satan-loving savages jumping round screaming heathen songs? Let me tell you, Missy, you better get your head straightened out right quick. I knowed it was a mistake letting you go to County High School. I should have insisted you go to Fellowship Christian School, even though they ain’t quiet right bout the second coming, but at least you wouldn’t be around sinners who would go to such heathen doings!”
Once again Mary Catherine dared interrupt her mother. Twisting a dishtowel around her hands, ignoring her shaky knees brought on by fear, she forced her voice to come out strong. “NO, NO, Mother! It’s not a rock concert. I wouldn’t even dream of going to one of those. This
is a ballet company. They dance, well, it’s like they dance to tell a story. The stories are very old, and …”
“I don’t care what kind of stories they are! You know just as well as I do what this family thinks about dancing. Just last fall Brother Russell preached a powerful sermon bout how dancing is pushing the young people of this world right into the gates of Hell. Dancing is SINFUL!”
When her mother made a pronouncement in that tone of voice, it was the end of the conversation! The WORD has been made known and all would obey. As if to underline the fact that the word had been spoken, her mother turned back towards the cupboard and gathered up silverware.