Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Finding Jesus at the beach.

I haven't gone to church-church (aka mass) in about six months. Every Sunday that would roll around, I was either working my old retail job or visiting family or it just didn't seem right. 

My anxiety with large crowds is ever-present and even though mass itself is a welcoming, all-inclusive event, it can still be overwhelming to me. I feel worshiping God is a private, personal act. It can be hard focusing on Him when around so many others. 

I found the sermons to be lackluster and generic in their message. I'd be going through the motions of the mass but not connecting with what was being preached to me. And I got tired of going to church to pray for the same things. To finally meet someone, for something better in my life, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. Certainly God knows what's in my heart by now. 

So over the summer, when my anxiety would get the better of me, and church wasn't an option, I'd go for a walk. I would walk along the lakefront path near where I live to the beach two neighborhoods north of me. I went once or twice a week, every weekend, usually as the sun would begin to set. 

It's about a forty-five minute trek and during that time I'd smile at the trees and tell the wildflowers along the path that they were beautiful. Cloud formations evolved overhead and cool breezes kissed my skin and I admired families being together in the distance. 

The destination always ended with me at the beach. I'd take my shoes off when I reached the sand and be born again once my feet touched the water. Mmmmmmm. A religious experience all its own. In the grandness of the lake and sky, there was a sense of something much bigger and more important than myself. 

If God made all of this, wouldn't it be logical that He'd be there too? 

Is this how the world was first formed? Wild waters rushing onto the land, waiting for life to begin. And when the waves would be especially rough and the sadness was with me, I'd think about the water pulling me in like Virginia Woolf, taking the never-ending lonely days with it. 

It was knowing His presence was there that kept me going. The colors changing in the evening sky, how the seagulls would perch on just one foot, the way sand formed plumes in the water when the waves hit the shore. 

Sometimes it would be too much and others not enough. Can you see why I kept going back week after week? It was calling to me. Sometimes I'd feel it so deeply during my walks, I'd yelp like an animal to try and get it out. 

Nature became my makeshift church, the birds and the cicadas and the children playing were the sermon, and I'd baptize myself in the healing lake again and again and again. 

As the weather continues to get cooler each month, I wonder what I'll do during the wintertime, when it'll be impossible to wade in the waters. When the snow and ice obscure the trails I walk along. Perhaps that's when I'll go back to church. You


LightChaser said...

Frank Lloyd Wright once remarked, "My Church? I put a capital N on nature and go there."

Dean Grey said...


Thanks for the quote!

That makes sense considering Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture was meant to be harmonious with its outdoor surroundings.


stanw said...

Oh Dean, such a beautifully written post, descriptive words that get your thoughts on paper.
God is indeed there with you, in nature. Can you picture Him walking with you, his silent presence but so encouraging to you with every step. Often I feel His presence when I get quiet and as well when I have been out in nature, looking up, looking down or just soaking in the sunshine or even a cool breeze. These days I find myself looking outside when it is dark and the North Star is so bright even at times twinkling as if to say "Hi".


Dean Grey said...


Thank you!

I knew you of all people would understand this, Stan.