Reub's journey

15 May 2011

Sundays in the church of the woods

Leaves reflecting in a pond
Years ago, back in the 90's when we were raising very young children, we moved to Alabama, the Bible Belt of the US. When we bought a house there, the realtor suggested that we join a church as soon as possible. "This is where you make friends and connections, and it is where the power is," she said. As true as that may have been, we just couldn't do it. It didn't feel right, and it wasn't how we wanted to spend the precious hours of Sunday mornings.

When the dogs jump in, the reflections distort
 I know that my mother-in-law quietly worried. How would we teach our children about God? Would they know right from wrong? Would they have a spiritual life?

Almost every Sunday morning we piled into the car and went on a walk somewhere with our old German shepherd. Often it was just a few minutes' drive out of town in a state park that had a lake, streams, and woods.

One day a parent of a friend of J, our 7-year-old daughter,  asked me about church. Her family attended the First Baptist Church, and so when I told her about our weekly ambles-in-lieu-of-church-attendance, she was amazed for a moment. Then she said "Ohhh ....can we come along?!"

So today was Sunday, and we went to "church" by running the dogs in the woods behind our neighborhood. The wild iris is blooming, the crows are in their glory, and the ground is strewn with flower petals.

I don't think it's the wrong path.


  1. Wow.

    So NOT the wrong way to go to church, Kerry.

    I love being on a wavelength with you.

    Your pictures are sublime!

    You lived in Alabama? Wow. I would love to hear more about that.


  2. amen, sister. those leaf reflections are amazing.

  3. i did a post on my blog a while back talking about my church pews were the built in benches on my deck. it is where i see so much natural beauty and feel so filled with grace - and i feel closest to God here. for some, a church and the congregation in it are necessary. to others, maybe not. to each his own... :)

  4. The way you see the World, through both your eyes and the lens, is soooooo refreshing. This is about the best blog that i have ever read.
    I bet you could write short stories just like Carver. Please never stop...


  5. When we moved to Texas I immediately joined a church and gave 110% of my time and efforts. It was a small town and everyone went to some church. My children attended Sunday School. I never felt like I belonged, but it did provide a group of wonderful friends...some of which I have seen over the years. Now I go to the same church that you do.

  6. I gave up organized religion long long ago. Now we have moved to a small town in Texas and when people ask me about church I just tell them I don't 'do' religion. I worship every day though when I wander outside noticing and enjoying the beauty around me.

    It amazes me that people think if you don't go to church, you won't have any morals, as if goodness isn't inherent in us.

  7. Reya: YOU are the one with sublime pictures. I must write about Alabama; there is so much.

    Slim: I just realized that this would resonate with you , the daughter of a minister, in a special way. And I know that it connects with home-schooling too.

    twg: "To each his own" is right, I suppose. I wish I knew how people can connect with a spiritual side while sitting on hard benches listening to sermons; it never once worked for me. But perhaps it does for them.

    Saul: Raymond Carver. I remember an anecdote about him, that he took a night custodial job, finished the work in an hour, and spent the next 7 hours writing. Sweet. The fact that you have thought of him makes me want to go get a collection of his short stories form the library. I myself have never written a story in my whole life, but thank you!

    Tabor: See you in church next weekend.

    Ellen: I know, right? Are we taught goodness in the hard lessons of catechism? Almost never. It just doesn't come from there.

  8. Kerry, I am right there with you...
    But since I have returned to my country property, am far from family - having thoughts of returning to church for interaction with others.
    But then they do not believe like me - so what is the answer...

  9. wow! those are pretty cool reflections. I did not see an email for you, can you send me a member voice for a scavenger hunt scheduled for July 8, chosen by you, Small Medium Large.(fmtso) thanks!

  10. How beautifully put! You are a kindred spirit in the church of my choice as well - woodlands and meadows have always been my balm and place of refuge. Thank you so much for visiting my blogs and leaving such kind and generous comments. I'm happy to have a new place to come and read.

  11. OWJ: I get the part about wanting interaction, I do. Maybe some day I will need that too. And I wish that my mother would become more active in her church, rather than living isolated as she does, feeling like she has no purpose.
    Doreen: OK. I sent you something, hope you got it.
    Pauline: I look forward to reading more from you as well. You are a real writer, wow!


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