church, denali, Walking

A Variation on Church

Preparing for worship

Before we even step outside the excitement builds. She knows what’s coming – the movement, the smells, the sights, the sounds. She’s eager to experience it all!

Call to Worship
We walk to the back of the yard to check out the flowerbed. Crocus – purple and white. Some frost bitten from an early bloom. Others, for the first time, opening to the sun. Hyacinth, tulip, daffodils – all ready for warmer air to show themselves.

Opening Prayer
We walk up the driveway toward the street and the sun shines brightly on my face. I close my eyes and feel the warmth. What a welcome feeling! “Thank you.”

We’ve been at this for almost 10 years now.

These are constant. They never stop. Even now, as I sit here inside typing, I hear the hymns continue. It doesn’t matter who is listening, they will sing all day until the sun begins to drop. So many birds singing their spring songs. Woodpeckers provide the rhythm. Owls add their own low tones. Dogs bark occasionally, reminding us we aren’t alone.

Intercessory Prayer
My friend’s mom died a year ago today. Friends hoping their pregnancy lasts full term. Friends with multiple health concerns. Friends who are facing anniversary after anniversary of loved ones’ deaths. Family. Loneliness. There’s a lot of hurt in this world. Look at all the cars driving on this street right now. Each one contains a person with his or her own story – the history of hurts and excitement, the present worries and joys, the future of unknowns. Each person living in their own world, among all the other worlds.

The buds on the trees. The nests high above. The frost melting off the branches, off each blade of grass. The squirrels digging for their buried treasures. A dog walking happily with her owner. God’s presence, God’s love. None of us are alone.

Sermon: Noticing
Dogs barking in the yard across the street. I look over and it’s above the fence, on the trampoline. I wonder if it likes to jump too. I laugh out loud.

There is frost everywhere, including the shady parts of the sidewalk. I slip slightly and I notice how immediately my body heats up, adrenaline? I barely slipped but my body was ready for the worst.

We come to a choice – go straight or turn left. We’ve done both. I let her choose. We go left. She looks up at me, pleased.

We are not alone – so many have come to church with us today. Squirrels, all over the place. One doesn’t see us coming, so I say, “Hi squirrel.” It sees us and runs away. Denali looks longingly, I say, “Sorry Denali.” Birds – so many birds. I wish I could identify them by their songs. I see a cardinal and a nuthatch. I hear so many more. Trees – dead and alive. Stumps, branches, sticks. Sedum peeking out under the dead leaves. A dog barks, I assume at us. I look over and he jumping at the door. He didn’t even see us, he just wants back inside.

I glance over and see a woman at the window – maybe washing dishes? The driveway is full of cars. I wonder why they are there.

At the beginning of our walk I noticed that the shadow cast from these small trees were enough to keep thin lines of grass covered in frost. On the way back the grass was frost-free, but the mulch had one thin line of frost. It’s amazing what difference a small trunk can make.

I remembered that a friend commented on a picture of me on Facebook, but it wasn’t my picture. I need to write her back. Don’t let me forget that.

Notice – remember to notice. I am aware that my mind wanders, that it’s hard to stay present for the full hour. But, I was mostly present. And that’s okay.

Returning home, back down the street. Don’t forget to grab the mail, we didn’t do that yesterday – returning to the tasks of daily life. But, God is present in that too. I don’t have to be in church to know that. God is all around. Love is all around.




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