Going to church without leaving home

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, June 29, 2017


I went to church three times this past week.


As an Episcopalian, that’s pretty rare, considering two of them were neither funeral nor wedding. And only once was I actually in the building.


On Tuesday, with the predicted cool front gracing our area under glass blue skies and nearly chilly morning temperatures, I finished barn chores in the seven o’clock hour, and wandered along Paul’s artfully designed flower borders, stuffed with roses and creamy Echinacea, Fox gloves and delicate Phlox, all vibrating with life in the drone of bees, all quite unconcerned that I stood over them for minutes, in wonder.


(Now hold on, because the rest of this column is going to sound like a Disney production, but I promise you it is a truthful recording of events…)


Beginning my customary two-mile walk, I turned to the right into our narrow lane, too narrow, really, for cars to pass comfortably, which explains the tire tracks along the grassy verge. I had picked up the tin beer cans casually thrown from windows the day before (I don’t know what irritates me more, the fact that they are undoubtedly drinking and driving, littering the landscape, or actually drinking Busch Beer), and was pleased how green and tidy everything looked. Our road is undulating and as I crested the first hill, the Blue Ridge, indigo in the morning light, loomed into view.


I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills….


And just on the other side of the hill came a doe, her coat nearly molten gold in the morning light, from out of the woods on one side of the road, her fawn directly behind her, crossing over to the other side. She caught sight of me, stood rooted, and followed both my approach and departure on high alert. When I reached the end of our road and turned back to walk its length in the other direction, it was too much for her and she leapt from her cover, the fawn appearing to be on springs, bouncing after her, and returned to the wood from where they had come.


He makes my feet like the feet of a deer…


Trekking downhill, the road crossing over a stream, I heard the great ‘plop’ of a bullfrog bellyflopping into the water, and still in shade and fresh with dew, the honeysuckle that tangled through the trees next to me was nothing short of intoxicating.


A fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice…


Suddenly, to my left came the crow of a rooster and I could see him, resplendent in white feathering, for some reason, wandering in the woods with two hens.


A strutting rooster, a he-goat and a king….


Turning back, within a half mile our farm came into view. Paul had just mown both fields and to me it appeared as parkland: the cropped grass, lush from recent rains, was as a fitted carpet beneath the oaks and poplars. I was surrounded by so much birdsong that as I continued my walk, I closed my eyes to count each different warble. Before I stumbled into the culvert, I had reached seven and with my woeful ignorance concerning all things ornithological, could only recognize the cooing of a wood dove.


Look at the birds of the air…


Standing now at the top of our driveway, I paused to take in a ‘murder’ of crows, fat and opinionated, clumped together on the top rail of the fence as well as my horses, grazing earnestly, their manes glinting in the sun.


Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?


I felt awestruck, humbled, renewed.


And then I stepped on a crumpled beer can and cursed like a sailor.


Time to go back to church.