I've been gone too long. From a jaunt around the southwestern part of the state, to a trip home followed by a backpacking venture, and on to a journey to Arkansas and back, I have missed too many small town Sundays. As I sat in the pew last Sunday (I'm a little behind on writing), I joyfully recieved one of God's birthday gifts to me: the chance to be in the quiet of Green Mountain Falls again.
In a rather rare occurrence, I arrived early to the service. I eased into the pew behind my artist friend, and was soon joined by another woman who is always full of warm greetings and interesting conversation. She calls me Kate, a name that only a few seem to pcik up naturally. The artist told me about how she was recently commissioned to do some work for an Indian reservation, and was laughing about the mess of wood and tin and paint that currently fills the rooms of her house. Both of them offered me my first birthday greetings of the day with smiles, and I grinned inside.
The woman teaching the children's sermon offered a lesson about being the light of the world, doing so by showing different kinds of light: she lit a candle, struck a match, and held up a light bulb. I leaned over and asked my neighbor if she thought we'd get to see a blowtorch. When the pastor returned to the pulpit, he remarked that the lesson was a good reminder to make sure the building was up to fire code. In that case, perhaps the blowtorch wouldn't have been such a great idea, but I was a little disappointed none the less.
The main event for the day came after the service. The church recently acquired the town's old community building, hoping to restore it and put it to use. In celebration, there was a gathering at the building, including some words about the woman for whom it was named (Sallie Mae Bush) and, of course, food. The best part was that the congregation made the quarter mile journey to the building as a group, a mass exodus from church to community center that filled the entire two lane street and stopped traffic. The police actually blocked the road for a few minutes, just to allow the momentous event to transpire. It looked like a cross between a parade and a victory march, young and old marching toward the building in their Sunday best. I could not help but smile, depsite the fact that my schedule for the afternoon made it so that I was one of the cars held up by the march, rather than one of the mighty throng of walkers.
Yes, I had been gone too long. But despite the fact that a week is seven days long no matter where I go, it just doesn't feel the same when I'm far from my small town Sundays.