Monday, January 10, 2011

Nazarene Camp Meeting

It was the summer of 2002 and my mother wanted somebody to take her to an evening service at the Nazarene Camp Meeting in Dickson, Tennessee. She was living in Nashville at the time, retired into a high rise with other older people. Her husband was deteriorating in a nursing home. I kept hoping a brother or another Nazarene would take her to Camp Garner Creek. But no one stepped up to the plate except me, her lesbian daughter. She was frail, alone and losing her vision to macular degeneration. I drove from my house in Birmingham to Nashville, put my mother in my Honda and we drove out to the camp where the Nazarenes gathered in an open air tabernacle. The singing was lively and loud. Then the preacher, plump and oily, began to preach and his voice went into a shrill tirade. His fist pummeled the air like a ham as he screamed at us, saying that the homosexuals were destroying society and that God would punish them and all those who acted as if the homosexual lifestyle were anything other than an abomination. My mother was leaning against me as the shrieking went on. She stiffened. She turned and whispered in my ear, "Will you help me out of here, Honey?" We stood and I held my mother's elbow, guided her along the center aisle, passing staring faces across the concrete floor and through the darkness to my car. I put the key in the ignition. "I’m so sorry, Honey. I am so sorry. I had no idea that man would be preaching here tonight. He's an idiot. The last time I heard him preaching--he said that there is a hole in the ground in Siberia where you can lean over and hear the wailing coming up from hell." I pulled out on the highway. "I didn't ask you to bring me here just so you and I could be insulted," my mother said. She held my right hand as I steered us back home.