the church at Faithvillage
My daughter and I are standing in the middle of a one-lane dirt road deep in the woods. Locals call it the Coal Road, the story being that generations ago coal from the mountains was transported through here by some sort of rail. I’m not sure if that’s true or not—something about that doesn’t seem right—but it’s the Coal Road nonetheless, maybe like big people are often nicknamed Tiny or Slim.
It’s peaceful here on the Road, though during summer nights and autumn weekends the local teenagers come here to drink and, in words my grandmother would once whisper, “Know each other in the Biblical way.” The thirty thousand acres leading from the Coal Road into the mountains are both unspoiled and wild. Mysterious, too. There are plenty of stories about this wood and the spirits that are said to inhabit it. And as someone who’s tromped and trampled through much of it over the years, I can say at least some of them are true.
As a child I learned to pray by way of recitation and counting of beads. With my plastic rosary clutched between my small hands, I’d go through the Hail Mary* repeatedly, hoping that by offering the prescribed number of supplications, I could appease God enough to garner his forgiveness or the removal the burden which sent me to the rosary in the first place.