1962/63 Clarendon Hills, Illinois
My family always had a hard time getting to church on time. It was probably because one bathroom for seven people held up progress to the car. And partly because we took a leisurely approach to Sundays. So the Meinkes usually got to Community Presbyterian late, but not real late.
I remember when I gave the sermon on Youth Sunday, my family arrived just as I was shouting “Repent, for the day of the Lord is at hand!”. (I’ve always liked a bit of drama!)
I’ve always been a morning person (or at least until I retired!), so I rose early on Sundays and tried to shepherd my parents and siblings through breakfast and bathroom trips to get everyone ready and off to church. I wasn’t often successful. Sometimes I just set out on my own to walk the mile or so to church with the fervent hope that everyone would show up at church eventuallly.
One spring morning, I set off walking to church, along the cracked and broken sidewalk next to Chicago Avenue, planning to cut through the parking lot at Prospect School and head down to the church at the corner of Norfolk and Prospect.
As I walked along, I was singing hymns to myself, enjoying the sunny weather, the warmth, and the birds. To my right was the peat bog, which filled a large area of the northside of our town: wet, swampy in places, and littered with the ruins of an ill-fated housing development which had sunk into the peat. It was a magical fun place for grade school age kids.
As I walked and sang to myself, I just felt great. It seemed like I was in a golden cloud. It felt warm and comforting and made me happy. As I got closer to the school parking lot I remember singing the doxology and suddenly feeling like I was surrounded by well-being. I felt in touch with God and didn’t really want to emerge from that cloud of God’s love but getting closer to the church it felt like my happy cloud was fading away, too much busy-ness, I guess.
It’s a feeling I’ve tried recapturing for years. One which underscores my conviction that any one of us can have a direct connection to the Divine.