Tuesday, September 04, 2007

when sunday morning smiled on me

Yesterday morning, as I was driving 40 minutes to church, I crossed a line in the road to freedom. I'm not sure exactly where it was, I have to admit, that I only realized I had crossed it after the fact. Suddenly, I felt more alive than I've felt in weeks. Perhaps normally, I would say, "... in years," but I've had an alive summer.
The early evidence of Autumn's approach was apparent in the non-committal weather of a September Sunday morning. The sky was dark and overcast, the air felt a bit thick, and I saw that it could just go on like that all day, or it could burn off and reveal the blue that I knew was up there somewhere. Either way, I was willing to play along. I perfectly prepared to go about my morning, drive home, plant myself on the couch for my Sabbath Snooze and bask in my overcastedness. Then again, if the sun decided to burn through, I was prepared to lift myself from the cushions, bathe in the blue and sneak off to feel the sunset.
Up ahead, a hole opened in the overcast, and perfectly projected crepuscular rays spotlit the tree tops in a circle. By the time I reached the river, the hole had widened and the sun was glinting on the water and shining off the paddles of a lone rower 50 yards from either bank. That’s when I realized it. For several miles, I’d been alive. I was alone on a stretch of empty interstate watching a woman rowing alone on an empty stretch of river. She was alive. I was alive. The morning was alive.
From that point on, I didn’t miss a thing. I saw the expat Asian faces climbing the stairs to the Korean church I’d recently discovered. I saw the cattle egrets circled around the cows and taking flight only to circle and come back to where they had been. I stopped for a while and attempted photographs of the perfectly white gleaners, and irritated a bull with my presence.
After church, I whipped out my camera and captured community and music, and children dancing.
I spotted one quiet girl and tried to flirt with her, but she’d have nothing of it. No shy glances, no hiding behind mommy’s arm, no silly smile. She looked me straight in the eye and preached to me a sermon that only a child can bring. If I told you what she told me, you’d never believe me. If you did believe me, you may not understand. I’m not sure I fully understand yet. But I know it’s up to me to figure it out, because I’m the only one who heard the sermon.
I thought of that little girl all day. I thought of her when Molly and I drove off to take pictures. I thought of her while we talked to Ms. Richardson, the queen of the realm. I never laid eyes on Allison all day. She came home and went to bed before I arrived home. She was gone again to work before Molly and I came home in the evening. But four women played in my day. With a span of 72 years, surely the lesson was deeply important.
This evening, with the whole fam in tow, I crossed over the river again. Almost instinctively, I glanced down at the water looking for the rower. She wasn’t there. But as I glanced, Allison gazed up the river and said, “we should get something to put on the river on days like this - a canoe, or kayak, or something. Wouldn’t that peaceful? … so peaceful.”