It’s a windy, chilly Sunday morning in late October. The only businesses open on Carrollton’s square are Gallery Row and Horton’s. A few students hang around sipping hot beverages, but most are inside out of the weather, which has turned unexpectedly brisk.
More people begin to gather; obvious church goers, in their Sunday best. Only a few at first, so it’s not until the group grows that our similar garb becomes noticeable.
We are not dressed alike, but each of us is wearing some variety of plaid; a scarf, a skirt, a tie, here and there a kilt, a plaid-ribboned hat. Many of us are Presbyterian because of Scottish heritage. However, others of us have not one drop of Scott’s blood running in our veins. We agree to be ‘Scott-ish’ for a day or so because we’re Presbyterian.
As the crowd grows, those bearing standards arrive; they hold aloft wooden poles adorned with strips of plaid that snap and furl in the wind. And then a drummer and a bag-piper appear. The clergy and the choir join the crowd. It’s the Carrollton Presbyterian Church annual Kirkin’ O the Tartan.
I intended to ask people – especially those who can’t claim a Scottish background – why the occasion is important to them. But I don’t ask and end up feeling like I don’t have to.
I don’t ask because the occasion is made somber as we all pause to pray for a local family who had a child struck and killed by a car the night before. Heads bow, lips move silently. We step in to form an even tighter assembly.
And I don’t have to ask because I could see the unity, feel the close ties. Both sorrow and celebration serve to make us recognize the value of our congregation.
We march somberly on to the sanctuary, heads bowed, arms linked.