Culture Shock!

 , we

I’m going to digress here for a second and attempt to explain the vast
chasm I teetered on when I first came to live in Dixie.   Back in New
England,  in my little home town, we had 3 Catholic churches or
parishes;  the French went to Notre Dame (which was mine ), the Irish
attended St. Joseph’s and the Italians were found at St. Anthony’s.
We also boasted one Baptist church, one Jewish synagogue and one
Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall.   I can count on one hand the
number of times I was in the other Catholic churches and I never
once set foot in any of the former three.   Folks tended to keep
their worship to themselves.
 It was a close-knit community but we stopped short of dis-
cussing spirituality or religion in any way.  I was Marie-Rose’s
daughter so it was just assumed by everyone who knew me that I
went to her church.   Also, it was such a small town that I was
well into my teens before I was actually introduced to anyone who
could even remotely qualify as a stranger in the true sense of the
Down here in the South, after your name,  the first thing that usually
comes up in the conversation is:   “Where ya go to church?”   To a
newly-arrived Yankee that is going to be interpreted as an extremely
nosy, none-of-your-business type question.   I also discovered, for
the first time, the existence of what are called “non-denominational”
churches.   That whole idea, once it was fully explained, totally 
delighted me because it fell right in line with something I’d always
felt in my heart to be true.
No matter what we were told down here?  There is not going to be
an angel stationed at the Pearly Gate, armed with a fountain pen, asking
what denomination we are when we show up.     If you know Who Jesus
is, if you believe what He did for you and why, and if you’ve loved and
accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, then it doesn’t matter to anyone
up there what you called yourself down here:   Catholic, Lutheran,
Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc…..we only ended up with a gazillion
different denominations on earth because we couldn’t agree among
ourselves and we each wanted our own way.    (Sort of like a grown-
up, universal kindergarten full of spoiled brats!)   Jesus had nothing to
do with that.    What He said was, “Believe in Me, trust in Me & go make
disciples of all nations.”   Period.
Now while I was living in Winston-Salem and after marriage #2
disintegrated, going to church on Sundays wasn’t an option.   Even 
after the disaster we encountered in that Baptist, Kat & I could have
found SOME place to worship, but once I ended up waitressing, that
wasn’t doable.     My intention had always been to teach school once
we’d gotten settled in down South.   However, I quickly discovered 
that a teacher without tenure in Dixie, had better have a second 
line of income until she reached that level if she expected to eat!
Sad commentary on a state’s priorities when a waitress pouring
coffee and carrying omelets makes more money than an educator, but
that was exactly the situation in the mid-80s when I found myself
searching for a full-time job.    As most folks know, waitressing is NOT
a job where you have Sundays off……Sundays are the busiest tip
days of the week, so for almost 15 years, attending services anywhere
just wasn’t within the realm of possibility.    I still maintained my 
close relationship with Jesus though — no way I’d have gotten 
through those years without Him!!
Once Rich and I were married and settled here in Charlotte in 2005, we
started on a serious “church-search.”  He was raised as a Methodist, now
married to non-practicing Catholic, so non-denominational seemed like
our best bet.    That was an adventure and an education in and of
itself!     We started with the biggest church in the neighborhood; just
walked up the front sidewalk one Sunday morning and I had my first
encounter with what I later learned was a staple of churches here in
Dixie:    “The Greeter!”    Kind of like Wal-Mart….
Folks stationed outside whose sole job is to hail, holler and
welcome folks to Sunday service.    Neat idea…..although I did NOT
make a favorable impression on this particular greeter.   They are
obviously trained to spot “newbies” from a mile away because this
middle-aged lady zeroed in on Rich and I immediately and rushed
towards us, grabbing my hand as she loudly and earnestly inquired,
“Have you found Jesus?”    Now, unfortunately, what’s in my head
usually comes out of my mouth without a lot of downtime and that’s
what happened here.    When she asked, “Have you found Jesus?”
I replied, without skipping a beat, “My goodness…..I didn’t know He
was missing!!   We talked just this morning!  When did you lose
Him?”    Needless to say, although she finally did close her mouth,
she was NOT amused.   As we were walking (slinking?) back to the
car, Rich pointed out that our church-search might be a bit more
fruitful if he were allowed to duct-tape my mouth;  at least until we
got in the door.   LOL!  
Our quest continued for several more months until God Himself decided
to take things in hand.     OK…next entry picks up my story right after
the Baptist church fiasco!

were sitting in Olive Garden

at the bar,waiting for a table.    Rich had gone to the rest room while I
was seated in front of the door sipping a ginger ale.     This very well-
dressed young African American couple, probably in their late 20s or
early 30s, came in the door.  
The woman looked around and made a beeline right for me,
saying, “Are you Dusty?”   I nodded my head and she pulled two tickets
out of her purse as she asked, “How would you like two free tickets to a
Christmas pageant?”  I replied, “Sure, where is it?”   She said it was at
Garr church which was right up the road and she was sure we’d enjoy
it!I thanked her very much….she gave me a quick hug, returned to her
husband and out the door they went.
So Rich comes back and I tell him we’re going to a Christmas play up
the road and how some lady just walked in and gave me the tickets!
First thing he wanted to know was something that had never even
occurred to me which is “How did this lady know your name?”   GREAT
question!  Which to this day remains Unanswered!       We did ultimately
attend the pageant at Garr, which was marvelous!!    We thoroughly
enjoyed both the performance and the welcoming attitude of the folks we
met there.      Since it was an old, small church very close to our home,
we both felt as if we’d finally found ourselves a church home!
So for the first several Sundays, we paid close attention to the parishioners,
always looking for the young couple who had given us the tickets in the first
place.    We never found them.    Even after getting to know Suzie Q, the
administrative guru at Garr and telling her our story, she pulled out all the
old archives at Garr, (apparently, someone at the church is addicted to all
forms of photography as they had album after album filled with photos of
current members, past members, deceased members, etc.) but despite a
careful search of every album, the couple who had presented us the tickets
to Garr were never found or identified!      Now we certainly never would have
found Garr on our own and when you add that to the unexplained fact that
the lady somehow knew my name, and where I would be that particular 

2 responses to this post.

  1. Lol is all I can say here…i have known you for many years and believe me when I say I can picture that lady picking up her jaw…too funny!!! You always had a way with telling stories so this right here is perfect for you…you go girl!!!


  2. I am laughing, crying, and screaming out loud here Dusty…waking my family with my commotion. You are the queen of all narrators! You pull us right in with you….


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