Change, good or bad, can come about in several ways

By BRETT CAMPBELL,

Looking down on it from above, it’s fairly easy to see. The outline of it honestly seems unmistakable. What can’t be seen from ground level becomes clearer as you back away. 

It’s the outline of Chunky Grammar School, visible from the air in Google Earth or Google Maps (and I’m sure lots of other applications). In the grassy outfield between Adams Street and the infield baseball diamond of Chunky ballfield, the foundation of the old school is visible from “on high,” buried not very far below the current surface, resulting in discoloration of the turf growing above it. 

I recall walking through that area many times wondering about the old school that operated for 19 years — from 1938 until consolidation with Hickory in 1957. The building burned down in 1959 and the area became the place where so many of us played baseball over the years. 

I graduated from Hickory High School a full half-century after the doors of Chunky Grammar School first opened. Now you can buy dollar store headache medicine not far from where Mrs. Robinson taught us about “obstacles on the road to revolution.”

Chunky Baptist Church relocated to its current home in the 1960s. But it originally was located on what’s now Commerce Street, its shingled hexagonal spire stretching above the building’s corner entrance that somewhat mirrored the half-dozen pointed-top windows down the side of the white building. 

Like the grammar school, I never saw this building. When we came to Chunky, the school was in Hickory and the church stood on the corner of Adams Street and Hwy. 80. The school is gone (mostly) from Hickory now and the church doesn’t look like it did in the early 1980s. Some didn’t want the schools to consolidate, and I’m sure some didn’t want the church to move. But good things have come about.

Things have changed, like they usually do.

Times have changed.

And we never know when change will come. Sometimes it’s positive and sometimes it sure doesn’t look that way.

Twenty-four families lost their homes this past weekend when fire destroyed an apartment building in Vicksburg. Two dozen families having to put their lives back together, right after school started back, just after the new year began, with Christmas lights barely out of view and gifts still smelling of wrapping paper. Unexpected, unwanted change. But I pray that good will come of it somehow for these families. 

I heard an elderly pastor share this past Sunday night that he remembered working as a sharecropper in the Mississippi Delta, having to drink water from a different water fountain. I listened as another elderly pastor shared about not being allowed to come on the front porch of the houses where he cut yards in order to get paid, but rather had to go to the back door and accept whatever was given to him, even if it was far less than what was fair. 

But both also shared how grateful they were that men and women, black and white, young and old had worked together to change things over the years. And none of us was to treat anyone else with anything less than love and respect, because we were all created equally, all in the image of God. 

Those changes came slowly, and were unwelcome by many. But change came, and it was eventually for the better. 

The first pastor also talked about losing family members to a particularly violent crime in his community almost a year ago — how tragic it was, and yet how much God had blessed him and his family through the love and compassion of people all over the county reaching out to them. 

“The devil shows up,” he said, “but God ain’t through talkin’.”

I’m grateful that my worth isn’t based on the color of my skin. Mine’s mottled with freckles and scars and eczema, and I’ve got a wicked farmer’s tan. If I were to judge another person’s worth based on their skin pigmentation, I’d be a sorry judge indeed. That’s change that would definitely need to come. 

All my neighbors don’t look like me — some are different heights, different widths, different hues of skin, hair and eyes … some with no hair and no teeth. But we all are made in the image of God, and that means we’re made and loved equally. Looking down on it “from above” it’s a lot easier to see than at ground level. 

The devil will keep showing up in our community, in our county and state, in our nation and across the world. But let’s love our neighbors anyway, how about it?

God ain’t through talkin’.

Brett Campbell can be reached at 601-934-0901 or brettcampbell@bellsouth.net.