We visited a church yesterday that’s very close to our house. The service was pretty standard. Traditional. Liturgical. The church building was beautiful. Old windows with that wavy glass, old wooden pews, high ceiling. The back of the bulletin provided a short history of the building, describing that the church was originally built in 1600-something(!) and how it lived through the Revolutionary War(!). If these walls could talk…
We went through the usual motions of church: sing, sit, kneel, pray, feel God, daydream, listen. I expected this all to end with us sneaking out the back door unnoticed. Nuh-noh! We were inundated with faces and get-to-know-you conversations after the service. Honestly, I’ve never experienced this kind of welcoming-ness (not a word) at a church. With the exception of one young family (I was told that several other young families were absent), everyone was over the age of 50, beyond that, 75% were over 60.
Our get-to-know you conversations at church (which are not my favorite type of conversations) were actually pleasant and informative. No one else just moves here. Everyone else has been here for generations. We met a farmer who lives up the road from us. He harvests/gathers/(how do you say it?) clams and grows wheat. His father worked the same land. He said that his neighbor’s land has been in the family since the Pilgrims landed in Virginia. Woa.
I met a woman who works at the Barrier Islands Education Center (I don’t think that’s actually what its called). So, I asked her. I’ve been dying to know. Is there a public beach on the Atlantic side of the Shore? No, she said. 😦 , I said. She went on to tell me about some coastal towns that I should explore that may not have public beaches but do have water access. We also met an older lady with a colorful knit sweater. She was all smiles, and she and I talked about her sweater for a couple of minutes. Then, after introducing her to Gregg, they talked about her sweater for more several minutes.
I think that I was especially sensitive to this friendliness (a word!) since I’ve been spending so much time with these two dogs.
So much time to myself has been productive (my house is more decorated after three weeks than our previous house was after on year) and sharpening (God and I have been in conversation A LOT-there’s those two words again). This time has also made me realize how much I need people. I already knew this, but before the knowing looked something like: i need people. Now its more like: I NEED PEOPLE!!!
I can also appreciate their eagerness, because when our pastor in Knoxville encouraged us to speak with the new people visiting our church, I rarely would. Its exhausting to me to approach and start up conversations with people I don’t know. But these people were genuinely excited that we were there. It didn’t even seem effortful for them to approach us.
I think we’ll be going back.