We would always spend several weeks during the summer in South Carolina visiting my grandma and family.
I remember the stifling summer heat, the humid night air filled with loud bugs right outside the window. As the fan would spin, I'd think, "this fan is doing absolutely nothing but pushing around hot sticky air...I'll never fall asleep."
Indeed, I fell asleep and woke to the clanging of pots and pans in the kitchen. Oh, please let that mean pancakes with grandma's handpicked blueberries.
We would eat breakfast and run down the dirt path to the dock before nine in the morning. Getting to the boat first meant claiming your favorite seat...mine was always at the very front. The speed of the boat through my hair felt like freedom, and every ripple in the water felt like adventure. We would stay out there for hours.
We skied with 2 skis, 1 ski, and sometimes no skis. We bounced on top of the glassy water in tubes and fished when we were tired. We knew every inch of that big lake with our eyes closed.
The sabbath slowed our pace a bit which usually meant I couldn't listen to my choice in music on the radio. We would stop and rest more, read more, and eat more. My dad would usually suggest we split off into two different boats.
One boat would go out for some ski runs and maybe come back early, and the other boat would go for some ski runs and take its rest time in a quiet cove filled with still water and peaceful drifting...a bit of booze for the adults, loud music and jumping off the side of the boat to pee.
Translation: One boat is going to that mansion in the sky and the other boat is going straight to hell! Which boat are you hopping on?!
I never hesitated for a second.
I was going on my dad's boat, and if that meant going to hell, well at least we'd go together.
I'd ski until my legs shook from weakness. I laid on the front of the boat covered in tanning oil and sang the Grease soundtrack out loud. We would stop in a quiet cove, my dad would sip a cocktail and we'd talk and laugh for hours. How could any part of this mean I was a hopeless sinner? We were enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, enjoying each other's company, and...we were good and happy people. I felt alive, strong and free. I remember thinking, "How could God frown upon this?"
This is my church...no judgement and no guilt...and no panty hose. Amen.
I've sat on my snowboard on top of the highest peak around and had those same thoughts...been swallowed up by the trees of Yosemite, and serenaded by the waves on the beach.
All gods are welcome.
There are no walls to these churches and no doors to push open.
Take me to that church any day of the week.