I would like to thank the Episcopal Church.
I have done my share of whiskey drinking, skirt chasing, property destruction and running my big mouth. There are police reports with my name on them from Nantucket to Key West. I’ve spent the night in the slammer a few times. (By the way, the best jail food is in Chapel Hill, NC; awesome hash browns). I’ve broken a lot of stuff, smashed a few cars and burned a building down. Fraternity boys should not play with firearms while drinking grain alcohol, especially in the city limits of Charlottesville.
Now, some “do gooder” psychiatrist would probably say that I experienced some trauma as a youth or I was “crying out,” rebelling against the mores of my parents’ generation, blah, blah, blah. The truth is simply, I am a Smith. It’s in my DNA. My three brothers, my Dad, my grandfather and great grandfather were all Good Time Charlies. My great, great grandfather Smith was in the Home Guard, and when the Yankees entered Richmond in 65, he met them, armed only with a big whiskey bottle (naturally it was empty).
My Dad was a great man, a brilliant lawyer and a complete gentleman, but he was also a first rate whiskey drinking good ole boy rascal. As a little boy, I remember him telling me my prayers at night, every night. Occassionally he would recite the Lord’s Prayer or the 23rd Psalm from memory. Every Sunday, he’d make us shine our shoes, put on a tie and off we’d go to St. John’s Episcopal Church. At the height of my University of Virginia rascality (I think that’s a word), on occassion I would find myself at Christ Episcopal or Emmanual, and immediately an etheral goodness would wash over me (and boy did I need it), as the Minister would recite the old familiar Anglican liturgy, reminding me that despite my imperfectness (Smith DNA), I knew where “truth” lay.
I gave up the Maker’s Mark some 20 years ago. Now don’t get me wrong, I am still a woeful sinner (I could get arrested for just some of my thoughts), but the Episcopal Church has always been there for me, quietly beckoning out, calling me and welcoming me with both arms. I love St. James’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia. This morning the choir was rocking, and I saw people with not one drop of “soul brother or soul sistah” in them “gettin their groove on” as an infectious joy spread throughout the Church. The Good Book says that wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there lies the Holy Spirit. I believe this.
Now, I got a boy at Ole Miss. Oxford may be the “most fun” college town in America, bushels of good looking women, and my boy, well he got a double doze of Smithness. He’s a charmer, and I love him dearly, but when you are 6′ 6″ and full of college boy testosterone, a father tends to lose a little sleep. Let’s just say, I have gotten to know the Oxford Police Department (and a few other municipalities). Well last week, he told me that he had been to St. Peter’s in Oxford. I was floored.
Somehow, the Episcopal Church has always been there for my family, and I am grateful. Despite its many issues ( misguided liberalism among them), it is still an awesome institution, it is in my blood and my very being. It extends its hand when least expected; it is an integral part of my life, and my greatest hope is it will continue to be so for my children.