I Went to Church at a Pond

This morning, I went to church. The church’s name was pond. A small pond, so insignificant it doesn’t even have a name. I entered for exercise, a morning walk before the heat of the day. I stayed for the transcendence, the joy. I came to church hunched with the weight of a fraying faith, a world in tatters, a soul overwhelmed by the grief of this thing called living.

 

When I got to church, the cathedral ceiling of sky was clear, air permeated with the sweet smell of pond – smell of water, energy, life. Already hot, the sun blazed in the cathedral sky, reminding us all of who is really in charge here. It’s not me. For this reminder, I am grateful.

 

Pond church has a wooden walkway around it, creaky and aged, but still functional. Each step makes a small noise underfoot, grounding me in my steps. I listen to the sermon and scripture while I walk – there’s too much to see to keep still.

 

A family of ducks taking their morning bath, quiet splashes and feathers everywhere, as they float peacefully on the water. The steady, low, buzzing orchestra of insects share the opening hymn. None stop what they are doing, but all are listening.

 

Next, the monarch butterflies arrive. I count them – four, five, six – dancing around, across, above, below each other in a rhythm of familiarity and praise. They land on flowers and drink. None of the residents of pond church stop to ask if they have the right paperwork, if they are “one of us”. Everyone at pond church belongs. The wayfaring butterfly on its way to Mexico and the turtle who was born here – no them, only us. I count myself blessed to be invited.

 

When I sit down, I smell more clearly the green goodness of pond. The fish have arrived for worship – or perhaps more accurately I finally have eyes to see where they have always been. Their smallness comical in contrast to me, the interloper – the welcomed stranger – here.

 

Unlike my fellow humans, the congregants of pond church don’t make arbitrary distinctions of who can come, who can stay, and who is worthy. I am the least worthy of this morning miracle, yet I am welcomed because I am kin. I approach the pond, the plants, the fish, ducks, flowers, and every living thing in this space as sacred – because they are. God has created each of us for a purpose, and we are family.

 

Creation is a sacrament, and today I have been blessed to receive. Before I leave, kneeling by the water’s edge – in a space where grass has been pressed down by other knees, I reach my hand into the cool, clear water. A small fish swims away, despite my attempt to move slowly. Slowing down and paying attention is so unbelievably difficult, isn’t it?

 

Fingers in the water, I let the paradox of humble grandeur that defines this place wash over me. Dripping with sacred pond water, I bless myself and know that I have learned more about who God is in pond church, than I have anywhere else in a very long time.

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