Monday, June 05, 2006

A Summer Breeze of Wisdom [CCR]

If you happen to travel down towards Cherokee, take the short trip out North Pike and just before you reach the Natchez Trace Parkway you will see a sign directing you towards Mhoontown Methodist Church. I’m not sure how many people know about this small but vibrant church located just a short drive into the shaded trees down Mhoontown Road. For me it is a beautiful drive I make on my July 4th pilgrimages home.

The area, the old church, and the cemetery adjacent to the church were named after the Mhoon family. Now I am quite sure my mother, our resident historian, could tell you far more details about the Mhoon family and their influence on the area. Looking around the cemetery you can see the foundations of the Mhoon family that includes burials prior to 1850 and memorials to family members laid to rest elsewhere many years earlier. The earliest memorial on record was for Moses Mhoon who died 1771, long before the Mhoon family settled there.

I highly suspect the Mhoon family was attracted to the area because of the spring located a short distance down the hill from the church. I haven’t been to the spring in years and couldn’t testify to its current condition, but a drive to the church and a walk through the cemetery will prove relaxing. Your tour through the cemetery will depict a panorama of the family names throughout the history of the area.

While the church has taken a somewhat modern look, it still has that feel of holding a history deep within its walls. Some of that history and the family names you will review include my own ancestry. Among the tombstones you will find Rev. William Jefferson Smith, born 1849 and buried in 1950, not long after celebrating his 101st birthday.

Rev. Smith was a circuit riding Methodist preacher who had become well known in our parts. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a circuit consisted of two or more churches in a geographical area and the circuit rider rotated among those churches serving as the pastor. Today a circuit is known as a charge. But the fame of the Methodist circuit riders lives on in the South and Rev. Smith carried the reputation well. I must admit I am a little prejudiced to the fact since he was my great-great grandfather and the reason my older son carries the middle name of Jefferson.

Rev. Smith departed twelve years before my birth, but left a strong impression among his family. A family that is wide spread among the population of western Colbert County. So in my walk I pause momentarily at the foot of his resting place hoping he might find a way to divulge the recipe to his longevity. If my guess is correct his secret may include his own joyful conviction to his vocation, but it may also be found in a simpler form of life. Life where worries stand aside for the moment so we enjoy the cool breeze blowing through the green trees of summer. Maybe that is why he chose Mhoontown as the place where people can drop by to pay homage. In doing so they gain a small portion of that secret and hopefully leave with contentment.

The next time you have had a long day at work, miss an important deadline, or come across someone who delights in your dismay think about that little church in the woods. If it is a bright summer day, pack a picnic and take that trip down to Cherokee. You can stop off at Colbert Park on the Natchez Trace to enjoy a meal by the river and then head south for the first exit. Take a right towards Cherokee and you’ll see the turn about a quarter mile down the road on your left. After parking by the church step out into the cool shade of the trees, breath in the fresh air, and listen. You too may discover a vital secret. And if you happen to bring any of those troubles with you, drop them off. A lot of wisdom is there to help you rediscover the true substance of your life.