Monday, June 15, 2015

little brown church in the wildwood

I must have been in high school when my family started attending Crystal Lake Church. 

The church had a log cabin feel to it.  Hewn-log exterior.  Knotty pine interior.  It looked as if it had just stepped out of a holler in Tennessee.*

Not surprisingly, the congregation's theme song (sung every Sunday morning) was "Church in the Wildwood."  It opened the weekly live radio broadcast of our services. 

The congregation was small.  But we cared for one another's needs.

I thought of that little church yesterday morning during our service under our palapa in Melaque -- our own little brown church in the wildwood.  Church attendance varies between the summer and winter. 

When the tourists are in town, our attendance soars well over a hundred.  In the summer, there are only a few expatriates in town, and have an occasional visitor from up north.  Yesterday we had six people.

For the past few weeks, we have been studying one of those Christian disciplines that we often neglect -- prayer.  A discipline that is often neglected as much as feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, inviting the alien in, clothing the naked, tending the ill, and visiting the prisoner.**  We have been using Philip Yancey's book on the topic as a jumping off point for our discussions and Bible study.

As much as I enjoy our Sunday services in the winter, our discussions in the summer mean a lot to me.  The group is small enough that we can share practical lessons with one another -- the type of hints that enriches our prayer lives.  And we share our hurts -- some of which are heart-rending.

When I leave our group on Sundays, I always feel as if my communication with God is maturing.  After 66 years, it should.  But I also feel closer to the people with whom I share my life.

And we may need to exercise that sharing attitude soon.  When hurricane Blanco blew by here earlier in the month, another disturbance was forming in the Gulf of Tehuantepec.  It has now decided to become Hurricane Carlos.

Well, it was a hurricane, and then it decided to be a tropical storm -- like a transvestite who mixes up costumes at Finnochio's.  The current prediction is that it may increase its wind speed to hurricane levels before it heads north.

All of that would be academic if it were not for the predicted path of the storm.  If you look at the map [double-clicking will increase its size] and find "20" (the 20th latitude), move your finger slightly down the Mexican coast to 19.  That would be me.  And my fellow congregants.  And a group of villages with approximately 8000 or so souls.

Right now, it looks as if Carlos will pass by a bit out to sea.  But it is possible that it will trundle right over the top of us.  If we do not get hurricane winds, we will have high winds.  And rain.  And heavy surf.  And flooding. 

We always get flooding.  We are at the base of a mountain range that has a very active drainage system during these storms.

I am scheduled to be at my dentist's office Tuesday morning for a cleaning.  Carlos may have different plans.  Maybe I will just brush my teeth extra on that day.

Of course, I could pray.  That was the point of this essay, wasn't it?

* -- The land on which the church stood is now an apartment complex.  But the church was not demolished.  It was donated to a congregation, who moved it two miles away.  It is now an Eastern Orthodox church -- Church of the Annunciation.

** -- Matthew 25:34-46

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