I did not go to church today…but I thanked God.
I woke early when my four year-old son crawled into our bed and cuddled in around me. I rose when his subtle shifting—something I once did to my own parents when his age—resolved in me to rise. As soon as I rose, he did too, awake all the time and only waiting on me to lead. We sat in my reading chair watching a cartoon, and he laid in my lap, stretching across me, and I took note how so fast, the space of my lap now seemed small for his ever-stretching body. I know my time to hold him this way is drawing near to its end, and in the quiet time we shared, I thanked God.
I did not go to go to church today, but I played baseball with my son. I teed balls and chased them down as he struck them across the grass beneath the shade of our grown trees. It was something I’d rarely done all summer. Now that he is in preschool, it is something I will probably do little until next year, and for the chance to do this with him today, I thanked God.
We walked as a family down a gravel lane between fields of corn and soybeans back to a pasture with calving cows and stacked hay for winter. I watched my children race in rubber rain boots, sprinting after their mother down the tire-tracked trails of the lane. My wife and I watched our children run and jump and make an obstacle course of the rows of stacked round bales, and I was grateful for another fall where our children love and enjoy the simple entertainments of a country life that may soon seem quaint as prioritization of status and distraction supersede simple pleasures. My youngest son cried as we left the pasture wanting to be held, and I carried him all the long walk back down the lane, being grateful to be wanted. He is growing every day. His baby voice is changing. Soon it will go, and too its memory as I try and try to hold on to it until it too is lost in the new voice repetition of our coming every days.
I did not go to church, but I thanked God for these little moments, the times of simplicity and beauty we too often forget and forego in pursuit of priorities the world says that we should chase only to look back and see our opportunities for the beauty of a transient phase in life forever passed. I did not go to church today, but I read and reflected on the readings in quiet time following our walk. I read the homiletic theme from a missal given to me as a lay leader my last deployment overseas. I read the readings, and when nothing hit me deep, I read ahead to the homiletic theme for next week’s readings. I read, felt, and reflected on the words I found:
“It is well-adjusted persons who can honestly be themselves always and everywhere. Such persons do not need status symbols, neither do they have any desire to keep up with their neighbors. They have no need to prove themselves…Humble parents have no pretensions. They know that they are loved and respected by their children for what they are. They can afford to apologize for mistakes, since it is human to make them. Humble persons give in easily when the other proves that he or she is right. One cannot be an expert in all fields. As a Christian, virtue, humility is rooted in God. Christians know that all they are and have constitute a gift of God. Hence, they are constantly in need of God.”[i]
I did not go to church today. But from the moment I woke, I felt the presence and gave gratitude to God. I know that I am loved. I know that I am respected, and I pray I share and show the same to all around me. Faith is more than a repetition of habit in attendance to a temple. It is an effect on our life—its perception and its purpose—the way we see and interact with all the world around us, and through my faith I lived a day of rest and a day of love: felt, shown, and shared.
I did not go
to church today, but I lived a day of love.
I shared moments, time, and gratitude with the greatest gifts that I’ve
been granted in this life. I did not go
to church today, but still I praised, loved, and gave thanks to God. Amen.
[i] New…Saint Joseph Sunday Missal, Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 1999, p.1319