Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Going to Church

"Go home, Jim. This job is a marathon, not a sprint." With that, my thirteen-hour Saturday came to a close and I went home. My first real week working my new job was now complete. It had been capped off with back-to-back 12+ hour days and I was feeling it. As a chef, I had worked plenty of long days (...and weeks, and months, and seasons...). That was nothing new. What had changed, is now I'm over forty and my body complained adamantly when I did anything for that long. Now it was Saturday night. I was home with family and looking forward to tomorrow. You see, I have a Sunday ritual. Even though I had been up at 5:00a.m. every day, I still got up early and headed out. Zooey and I made our usual stop for a mocha which she will try to lick the whipped cream off of, and we headed to our place of worship. In the six months I was unemployed, this walk was commonplace, but the Sunday version had become special. Before Zooey, I used to go for a bike ride religiously on Saturday or Sunday mornings. As the town's faithful drive to church, Zo and I arrive at our place of worship. As we get out of the Jeep, a different kind of music draws me in. It's the sounds of Lake Michigan, not an organ that beckon us closer. At this point, Zooey takes off to do her own thing. This usually entails her darting through the beach grass, with her nose down, after invisible rabbits. I make my way along the trail down to a soft sandy beach that stretches for miles. I look for the perfect seat. One with plenty of sand and very few Zebra mussel shells. I set down my coffee and Zo's leash and kick off my shoes. After I check on the dog's whereabouts and whether she stands to bother anyone, I lean back with my eyes closed and breathe in the morning. The early morning light on my face, the sound of the waves, the fine sugar-soft sand on my hands and feet, and the cool fall breeze all around me bring a kind of peace that only a beach can give. This is where I talk to God. I thank Him for my health, my family, and this day. I ask Him to help us all with our individual challenges. And I ask Him for continued strength and patience.
Eventually Zooey finds me again and we get up and continue our walk along the beach and up the boardwalk along the river and back to the jeep. We drive home amidst the other returning church-goers. Home to thier brunches, football games, and lazy Sunday afternoons. I often wonder during my Sunday meditations whether those dressed in dresses and suits enjoy their time with God as much as I do. Since we moved to this town, we've been 'shopping' for a church we could embrace. But to me, there's no church like the outdoors. Where God's work is all around you. The woods and the beaches is where the peace is. Where the magic is. Where God not only shows up, but also shows off. And there's no place I'd rather be on a Sunday than outside.