This morning is a good one. It’s going to be another beautiful summer day in Alpena, Michigan. Clear sky, probably high 70s. Little to no wind. Except for cars passing down 2nd Avenue every so often and crows cawing and heckling a few blocks over, all is quiet in the neighborhood.
Julian gassed up with Cocoa Krispies and half an hour of cartoons. He threw on clean underwear, the same shirt and shorts from yesterday, brushed his teeth, and ran out the front door to meet Gary, his mentor from church. They are in charge of purchasing doughnuts and treats and setting up the snack table for the devoted congregation.
Jovi got up, made herself a fried egg and toast, and dressed in her Sunday best—something colorful and not-matching, with beads and butterflies, and purple streaks in her white blonde hair. Nana and Papa picked her up so they can meet Julian, eat doughnuts, and attend the beautiful outdoor service.
The church is First United Methodist. My kids enjoy it. They go early and stay late to help with chores. They attend youth group, bible camp, and participate in whatever they can. They like the snacks, the library, the arts and crafts, hot cocoa, socializing with other kids, and spending time with their grandparents.
I’m no fan of church. It’s spooky. Thankfully, my kids are young enough so that they’re only interested in the surface stuff. They latch onto the love and tolerance and WWJ, but I think they’ve both got pretty good built-in bullshit detectors that soon enough things will start to stink and they’ll figure out that church isn’t necessary. That spirituality is beyond archaic, guilt-ridden messages, stained glass windows, and passing around a plate. That the love preached is not the same as the real love that grows from experiences at their fingertips, under their feet, in their heartbeats, thoughts, and dreams. That the real God probably prefers them getting out and doing on Sunday mornings—on every morning—rather than sitting and listening. The same messages hammered out over and over and over again. An old way of thinking disguised as new, still trying to send spirits backwards rather than encouraging true progress. The church’s filter stifling individuality and encouraging judgmental behavior by the sheer notion that one is not to judge.
But there I go. Preaching again when there’s shit to do.
I hope my kids are enjoying the doughnuts. That they’re watching seagulls float atop the waves. Listening to the water against the shore. Feeling the sunlight from the baby blue sky as ants in the grass carry crumbs and candy sprinkles to their colony.