A proud moment carrying the flag

Published 8:03 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023

By Jan Penton-Miller

The sweet fragrance of gardenias from my neighbor’s yard wafted over the fence as I sat having breakfast outdoors. Food just tastes better outside even if a flying insect or two may want to try to join in, and they always seem to be at the ready.

It’s interesting how smells resurface memories so easily, and this time of year I’m often brought back to the little red church in Harrisville, Mississippi. The small community where I grew up had two churches, one Baptist and one Methodist.

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The Baptist church and Harrisville Attendance Center seemed to almost share the same space. They were very close together on the same side of the road while the Methodist Church was directly across the street from the school.

Harrisville Attendance Center was not large since our community was not. It consisted of one room for each grade, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria. The playground had a merry-go-round, a slide, and some swings as best as I remember. I’m sure in present day it would have been consolidated with another larger school, but it was nice to have one for our community.

About this time of year when school had ended and that wonderful, long summer vacation started a long row of miniature gardenias bloomed profusely along the side of the Baptist church. Bible school always coincided with the blooming of the gardenias so each smell of these fragrant plants brings me back to the sweet memories of cookies and Kool-Aid, hugs and stories of Jesus.

It was during these times when many people gave of their time and talents to teach all the littles that I learned of Jesus’ love for me. I was fortunate to be one of the children who also attended Sunday school and learned so much there, but many children get their first knowledge of a loving heavenly Father through Bible school.

Perhaps my favorite memory of these long ago summer days is marching by that row of fragrant gardenias following the children selected to carry the Christian flag, American flag, and a large Bible into the sanctuary. We considered it a great honor to carry one of the flags or the Bible in and stand without squirming while leading the others in reciting the pledges.

The day I was chosen I felt so proud to carry the flag. I carefully held it so that it wouldn’t touch the ground, and beamed a huge grin of joy. When I was a little girl these simple things had a huge impact on me, and I think it’s the same for children today. With all the distractions of life that keep those little minds occupied they need to hear the simple, yet life-changing truths they will hear
in Bible school.

Soon childhood is over, and the cookies, Kool-Aid, and crafts are a thing of the past, but the truths learned remain in the hearts and minds of the littles turned adults to draw on in times of need.