Sundresses, cotton skirts, khakis, good jeans and tidy shorts were streaming toward the Tabernacle. Our casual beach clothes were swimming against the current, heading for the beach.
“I’m starting to feel kinda’ like a heathen,” I whispered.
“I’m not,” she replied with confidence.
“It’s not so much that I feel like a heathen,” I corrected, “it’s more that I kinda’ feel like they might think I’m a heathen.”
“And I feel like I’m dissing my people by walking right past them.”
“Why?,” she asked. “You don’t care about ‘dissing your people’ any other Sunday.”
True, I thought, funny how I consider fellow Christians “my people” when I don’t know them, when I’m out of town. They look so much shinier and friendlier as strangers. I think I just like the Christians I don’t know better than I like the Christians I do know.
“Maybe it’s not the people, maybe it’s the music, the call to worship. We’re walking right past the call to worship.”
“God is calling me to the beach,” she said with certainty as she steered me toward the path that leads to the lake.
In order to get on the path you have to walk right alongside the Tabernacle, with its open windows and full pews and wafting music.
The walk of shame.
“Must have been an intentional design,” I said, “back when the church was that way: ‘Sure you can go to the beach instead of to worship, but we see you. And we’re praying for you.’”
“Good, they can pray for me,” she quipped, “I’m going to go be dazzled by God.”
And we were.
I recorded the surf for about five minutes. For a February fix, when it’s -2 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here, you can have 35 seconds of it, in case you need it in February, too.
The sparkle and roar of the waves is as much a call to worship as any man-made song. I love the way the waves hit the beach and then scurry sideways along the shore.
After I made my movie, I thumbed through a couple of books. My daughter, Stephanie, and I were away for the weekend on a personal retreat. The retreat center had a library, which was great because I forgot to pack something to read. If there had been WiFi or a decent cell signal, I would have read you, my blogging friends, but, alas, I borrowed a biography on Hudson Taylor and one on George Sweeting.
“Never suppress a generous impulse.” – George Sweeting
Every waitress and barista we encountered for the rest of the weekend benefited from that quote.
So did the panhandler and the street musician we encountered on Monday. Except it kind of bugged me afterward that I gave the same amount to both. I should have given the musician more. He, after all, was contributing something beautiful to my day.
We encountered a panhandler on Saturday, too, and I didn’t give him a dime. 1) I hadn’t yet been inspired by George 2) I felt no impulse toward generosity 3) He annoyed me.
I probably would have given him a dollar if he had just simply asked me to help him out. But he gave a long, annoying tale of woe about being from Chicago and being left by his buddies and it costs $15 for the megabus and his buddies were arrested in their hotel room and his story went on and on and changed as it went.
If we had been a scene in a movie, I would have held up my hand to stop him and said, “No, ‘cuz I’m not liking your vibe.”
But in real life I’m nicer so I just listened and nodded and, when he was finally finished, said, “Maybe I’ll have some change on the way back.” Knowing I wasn’t going that way back.
In real life I can be a tiny bit of a liar.
After spending the morning on the beach, we headed to town for lunch.
After lunch Steph ducked into a public restroom before our long walk through town, along the canal and out to the end of the pier.
She returned with a story:
Senior Lady 1: “I’m so glad I brought that chair with me, it puts NO pressure on your body.”
Senior Lady 2: “Oh yeah, when we walked over to the other bathrooms we saw those chairs everywhere.”
Senior Lady 1: “I didn’t want to be rude to Mary, but they only hold up to 250 pounds.”
Senior Lady 2: “She shouldn’t buy one.”
Restroom fell quiet for a minute.
All of a sudden one of the senior ladies started singing “Blessed Assurance” to herself in the stall.
Sunday night we watched The Joy Luck Club on my laptop because there are no tvs on a personal retreat. I’m going to have to read the book now because I have unanswered questions.
I wondered whether there is some thing I should tell my daughter, something that will free her, show her her worth.
But I couldn’t think of anything.
It was beautiful in Grand Rapids on Saturday.
But it was really hot and steamy on Monday.
We thought it would be a little cooler along the river.
We got coffee as soon as we arrived in GR Monday, right after putting our names in at our beloved Wolfgang’s.
I don’t like coffee shops or restaurants that are new and shiny.
I like coffee shops and restaurants that are old and re-purposed.
There are so many good restaurants and coffee shops in Grand Rapids. Especially in Eastown.
If they ever re-purpose a bank or some other cool old building into a boutique hotel, we’re staying there. We’re going to park ourselves in Eastown for a whole weekend and merrily eat and drink coffee.
Back home now listening to the rumble of thunder in the distance and the soothing sounds of my sleeping beagle right next to me.
Hopefully the coming rain will cool things off a bit.
Life is good.
P.S. If you find yourself in western Michigan: