By Bruce Stambaugh
From our rented efficiency apartment in our favorite Ohio retreat, Lakeside Chautauqua, the day seemed gloomy, even overcast. Then I stepped outside into the predawn elements.
High, wispy cirrus clouds tickled the waning half moon. The previous evening’s rainstorms birthed refreshing morning coolness. At first, the stillness surprised me. It shouldn’t have.
The sleepy town was even sleepier on this Sunday morning. On the way to the lakefront, I broke through the waif of freshly made doughnuts at The Patio, the village’s popular eatery, without temptation.
Hazy half moon.
Lakeside at dawn.
When I reached the dock, I was stunned. Not a soul could be seen or heard. The day’s early morning dim light glowed along with the Victorian lampposts. Dimpled rivulets, like a sea of golf balls, pockmarked the calm Lake Erie.
Typically this alluring pier is packed with folks, even at sunrise. Walkers, joggers, fisherman share the space. Not today. I had the place to myself. I was both thrilled and awed in the silent twilight.
A pinkish halo hovered over Kelley’s Island five miles across the water. However, a peek to the east dampened my hopes for a sterling sunrise. Still I hoped.
I retreated to the pier’s entrance, mentally adjusting for a morning stroll around the resort town’s parameters. I glanced east again and found paradise. The sun’s bright beauty overrode the clouded horizon.
All glory was bursting through. I chose to exercise my senses rather than my legs. The Sunday morning service was about to begin, and I wanted to participate.
I walked along the rocky reinforced shore toward the call to worship. Using my eyes, ears, heart, soul, and camera, I recorded as much of the sacred ceremony as I could.
Baltimore Orioles picked up the chorus with the robins and purple martins. A lone common nighthawk buzzed overhead, skimming insects attempting to attack the unfolding beauty.
Fish played, jumped, and fed in the shallows near shore, rippling the calm waters that reflected the brightening sky. First pink and red, then orange and yellow added to the heavenly pallet.
Yellow, purple, and white irises dotted with last night’s raindrops joined the congregation. Stone upon stone sculptures added to the outdoor ambiance.
Surrounded by reflected brilliance, a family of Canada geese glided through the still waters without their usual commotion. Unaware of my presence, a pair of young raccoons cooed as they foraged in the oversized rocks for anything edible.
Lakeside daisies, held harmless by earlier cooler days, stood at attention during the offertory. As if rehearsed, the geese honked while the Nighthawk buzzed, forming an inexplicable choir. The sun just smiled its approval.
The shoreline trees expressed their worshipful appreciation, too. The willows gracefully bowed as the geese floated by, while the oaks and ash remained tall, strong and attentive.
Soon other humans were drawn to the splendor. A visiting woman ran past me and asked if lived here. I wish. Even if I did, I still couldn’t begin to own the natural grandeur.
Protect it, preserve it, embrace it, praise it. Yes. Claim it as my own. Never.
This may sound funny, but it’s true. Without a sound, the sky spoke reassuring words, words that calmed and healed and inspired.
The sermon’s message was clear. No earthly power or politician or calamity or chaos could overcome this evolving creation of the Creator.
In that, I was most confident and filled to overflowing. At the benediction, the sun wholly overtook the darkness, and indeed, it was good.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2016