St. Peter Church, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Aunt Orlean...

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Mary Lee and I took a quick trip to Bristol, Virginia, this past weekend: first, to attend the Reformation Festival of St. Peter Presbyterian Church; and second, to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Our time Saturday with the three parishes of St. Peter was a joy. There were many vendors of unnamed delicacies as well as two messages and an evening of dancing. The messages were given by Pastors Stephen Baker and RC Sproul Jr. Pastor Sproul gave a biographical sketch of Martin Luther, followed later in the day by Pastor Baker speaking on the relationship between the Christian and the civil magistrate. The day was delightful and the fellowship continued Sunday morning when we joined in worship with St. Peter's Abingdon parish where Pastor Laurence Windham had invited RC to preach...

RC's text was Luke 18:9-14, a warning from our Lord we in the Reformed church can't hear too often:

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt... (Luke 18:9)

We spent Monday driving slowly along the northern half of the Blue Ridge Parkway, starting the day around milepost 90 and travelling 100 miles south to the tiny log cabin of John and Orlean (Aunt Orlene) Puckett at milepost 190.

Mary Lee had read the biography of Orlean Puckett's life, Orlean Puckett: The Life of a Mountain Midwife. The book ends in 1939 with the account of Aunt Orlene...

then in her nineties, being forced to leave her cabin in order to make way for the construction of the Parkway. She died three weeks later.

Mary Lee gave birth to our three daughters at home and now serves the young mothers in our congregation by attending their births as a doula. Thus our interest in Aunt Orlean. This mother to mothers caught over 1,000 babies for her neighbors and was paid from one to six dollars, continuing her work until just shortly before her death. Sometimes she was able to ride a horse, but often she walked many miles to attend the birth. Sadly, she herself gave birth to 24 children, but not one of them lived past infancy.

After a short time at Puckett's Cabin, we drove down into Galax, Virginia, where we visited our newly-married niece, Sara (Bayly) Hawks.

The colors were past their prime, and yet (if you can believe a color-blind man) they were splendid! Parts of the Parkway still had snow on them from Friday night's storm, so we were almost completely alone. Oh the beauty of God's green earth! And then to take it all in beside my dear, cheerful, loving wife. I am a man with blessings beyond counting.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!