I skipped church on Sunday.
I didn't actually mean to, although I have been meaning to visit different churches in the WC in my efforts to "seek the good of the city" and also to seek what good is already being done. I thought I'd visit a church I'd never been to, and then head out to the walk to sponsor a cancer cure that was happening downtown. Starbucks was helping to support it.
In the end, partly because I didn't make myself get up sooner, and partly because I got caught up praying about something (not to make myself sound super-spiritual . . . or . . . anything . . . ), I didn't get to whatever Unvisited Church I had been planning on going to. I thought about just going to my usual church after all. But then I thought some more, and it occurred to me that joining in this Cancer Walk was also a way to seek the good of the city. Besides, all my Starbucks friends already know I'm churchy. They know I "don't work on Sundays" (whatever that actually means). I'm not sure they know that I care about some of the same things they care about, or that I would do something about that caring if it conflicted with one of my "religious" activities.
So I ditched church and walked. (I will add here that I slapped sun-screen on myself. Skin cancer runs in my family. I didn't think the sponsors of this thing would be too keen on its becoming known as the Walk to Cause Cancer or anything.)
The Starbucks people I managed to connect with on-site weren't walking--they were handing out free coffee and hot chocolate, which was kind of funny, since it's been unseasonably hot for about a week and a half. I helped with that a bit, but then the walking started, and so I set out. I somehow missed the other Walking Baristas from the district, and I never did manage to find them until I got back, even though we were all wearing green aprons. But walking "alone" in a huge crowd of non-violent people, all of us united by the fact that each of us probably knew someone touched by cancer and wanted it to stop, was how I discovered that this was a really great way to pray.
I think it's been well-established by now that I have some issues with praying. One which I maybe haven't mentioned much is the whole paying-attention-and-focusing thing. I'm not too good at it.
But it was a glorious day, and it was a five-mile walk, so there was plenty of time to refocus if I got distracted. And I found that, surprisingly, I wasn't all that distracted. I think if I had been trying to pray at home, for example, I would have hashed over and over the thing I had been praying about (and late for) that morning. I probably wouldn't have prayed for anyone or anything else. But the purpose of this walk was loud and clear on most of the walkers' t-shirts, and I couldn't stop thinking about all the people I knew who had struggled or were struggling with cancer. My great-uncle. Team Leader Ray. The daughter of some missionaries my church supports, who's only my age. I think her father has/had it, too. And, though I didn't think of them at the time, Emmanuel and Lloyd also suffered. (Lloyd never told me. I only found out about it later in an article.)
I prayed and I prayed, and I thanked God for those people, and for my own health so far, and for the people I was walking with, and . . . There are things about going to a church building and worshiping with other Christians that are vital, but I'm thinking maybe I didn't really miss church that day after all.
Photo: Courtesy of http://www.walktocurecancer.org/Picture_Album_2006.html#PicPos