Last Words and Words that Last

I grew up in a pastor's home and was therefore sentenced to sit through every inch of church each Sunday morning (and evening, since we were Baptists) of my life. I have no memory of how long worship services lasted back then, but I'm betting it was at least a 90-minute endurance test, at least for children. Few preachers in the fundamentalist tradition —and my father was one of them —preached less than 55–60 minutes.

Sitting alongside my mother in the sanctuary, I often had what is now called "restless legs," and I remember squirming in the pew like a contortionist as I tried to relieve the cramping leg muscles. Perhaps this was the first indication that I was to be a runner. But my mother saw less the future runner and more a badly behaving boy and always responded in some judicial manner. For me standing in the corner for 60 minutes on a Sunday afternoon was not unusual.

Sermons in the church of my boyhood were followed by a closing hymn (all verses) ...

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