My Grandpa Priddy rarely went to church. This had bothered my Grandmother immensely, who attended church on a regular basis, so she decided to do something about it. She asked the minister to come by their home and pay my Grandfather a visit. When the day came for the pastor to stop by, my Grandpa was at work on the hilly grounds of his property. He did that often. They discussed general things and when it came time for the minister to leave, he simply stated that he would love to see my Grandfather in the church sanctuary, sometime. My Grandpa smiled and told him to turn around to take in the view from on top of the hill that the two were standing on. He outstretched his hands and said to the minister, “this is my sanctuary and I’m with God, here, all the time.”
My Grandpa liked telling this story to me. His lesson was that it didn’t matter where you were, because God was with you, everywhere. In my family’s belief, this is true, but I like going to church. I always had.
I was bummed, several weeks ago, when we failed to turn forward our clocks and miss Sunday service. I had found comfort in going, lately, with it being March. This time marks the anniversary of my brother getting really sick and ultimately suffering a heart attack, due to his disease that went undetected. He never recovered from that moment, and in a way neither have I, so when I found solace within the pews of the church sanctuary, it had helped. I then decided to push up my long trail run to that morning, instead.
What a day it was for a run; sunny, warm and inviting. I came across the rock memorial within the two-mile mark of the Penwood trail, and I stopped. I meditated here. I thought of Ryan, of my family, of my friends and the hardships everyone was facing lately and wished them peace. I wished for comfort in their hearts, and in mine.
I ran onward and struggled between mile 4 and 5. I looked down and saw a butterfly on the path. This familiar creature fluttered from rock to rock, for about a mile with me. Once I got my pace back, it was gone. Thank you Grandma.
I ran to where ever my legs could take me along the trail. I then felt the urge to turn and look out to the valley below. There, nestled within the countryside, was the steeple of my church. I stopped and sat underneath a tree to take in the view. I thought about the sanctuary within the church, the members sitting in their pews and singing their final hymns to bring this week’s sermon to a close. I turned off my music and closed my eyes…and listened. I listened to my surroundings; geese flocking together, a woodpecker feverishly at work on a nearby tree and people talking along the ridge just below me. I was listening to the sounds of life.
Just then the sun came out and I thought of Ryan. I thought of how much I missed and loved him. I also wished he was right there sitting next to me. I thought of how much he would have loved this…and I started to cry. I mountain biker came by soon afterward, so I dried my eyes and ran on.
When I came out of the woods I felt good. I felt at peace. I felt the same way I would have walking out of the church doors. My Grandfather’s story then came to mind and I was thankful for this Sunday morning along the ridge side, as I ran along my very own sanctuary. Thank you Grandpa.
The last thing I would like to leave you with is the first song that came on while I was running the hardest part of the trail. It is called “I Dare You” by Hardwell and Matthew Koma. Please listen to the lyrics of this song. It was my Sunday hymn and I felt like it was written just for me, at that moment.
Thank you, Ryan.