Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Church of the Great Outdoors

A lovely Southern gentleman I know was talking with me once about church. The church where his wife is quite active has some heavy-duty politics, and it wearies him to be around it. He remarked to me, "I feel closer to God standing here in these trees looking at my cows."

My recent experiences of church have left me needing air and room to think, and I found myself often quoting that line about trees, cows, and God. Being dismayed at how much of what goes on in churches seems to be about perpetuating the stuff that goes on in churches, I needed some quiet to think, and I found myself drawn to open spaces, sunlight and birdsong. I began to speak of my church affiliation as "The Church of the Great Outdoors." It's got a fine building, designed by the best Architect available, and the choir is pretty good, too. The liturgy is very simple.

"For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." Isaiah

Sometimes I feel a bit like Samuel, just living in the house of the Lord, listening. I don't listen all that well, but I find I listen better when I'm not whirling around doing too many things. I've never belonged to a church and not had it rapidly become too many things.

When this drawing got started I showed it to my kids. They immediately said, "The Church of the Great Outdoors"? My wife got it, too.

So sometimes I think of myself as unchurched (like unseated from your horse) - but more often I think of myself as under the sky, quiet and humble, grinning simply at all He has done for us. Sometimes I picture myself "looking at my cows," and other times I picture myself contentedly looking back from under shaggy brows, ruminating.

1 comment:

Helen said...

Yes, I agree with you Steve. My experience with church has been one of busyness and rushing around, which is OK sometimes but not all of the time. For now, I'll worship God in my own way.