Fairhope

Accidental discoveries can be sweet experiences, and I just had one I wanted to share with you in the hope that you will find it as peaceful in this time of darkness and nightmares as I did. And, maybe you might also find it inspirational. For so many of us in this part of the Deep South, we have spent many good hours, days and weeks enjoying the little refinements and beauties of that lovely town on Mobile Bay, as well as the nearby resort, The Grand Hotel, on Point Clear. For me, this column really hit home as the Church where this story took place has always been one of my very favorite Churches in the whole wide world and I have had the great privilege of taking Communion there several times in the past. My discovery of this lovely little piece is all the more serendipitous considering the fact that I, who rarely check out Facebook but did so today to read all the wonderful birthday greetings our Son Brock is receiving today, found this account on the Facebook page of an old friend of mine, now the Rector of an Episcopal Church in Savannah, so I guess it was meant to be.

The remembrance of a recent Sunday starts:

“Fairhope, Alabama—a secluded chapel in the woods. There’s a grand picture window behind the pulpit. Through it, I see live oaks hanging over the windy waters of Weeks Bay.

I am standing in a single-file line of Episcopalians about to take Communion.

I don’t know these people. They wear large smiles on their faces, and they’re singing. They’ve either lost their cotton-picking minds, or I have.

In line ahead of me: the salt of the earth. Adults. Teenagers. Children. The elderly.

I meet two older women who were married a few months ago. A retired commercial fisherman who smells like the night before. Three attorneys, a few construction workers, a banker. A woman with breast cancer.

The bishop is white-haired, wearing a robe. He stands barefoot at the altar. He smiles at an elderly woman, then hands her what looks like a Ritz cracker.

The woman eats, and sips from a cup the size of a fishbowl Margarita. People embrace her. Everyone singing, everyone swaying back and forth.

These people might truly be nuts.”

The author, Sean Dietrich, whose site is entitled Sean of the South, continues with his recollections of Sundays of his youth and more of his impressions of his fellow worshipers in that “secluded Chapel in the woods” and finishes with what he experienced that Sunday morning on the Bay:

“And I feel it.

It’s overwhelming. I think this must be what all the fuss is about.

I’m here. With these people. Black, white, Mexican, Jew, gay, Samaritan, and purple-haired hipster. Young, elderly, Baptist, Methodist, beer-drinker, teetotaller, whore, tax-collector, meth addict, and Friends of Bill. Attorneys, veterans, preachers, divorcees, newlyweds, English majors, high-school dropouts, and reprobate redheaded writers.

We are all drinking from the same cup.

Forgive me, Lord, I was wrong. These people aren’t nuts.

They are my family.”

I do not know Sean Dietrich, but I sure did appreciate his sharing of such a special moment in his life as I have had several very similar experiences in that very same Chapel on the Bay and it is my heartfelt hope that you will get the same feeling of warmth and friendliness and spirituality from reading the entire piece as I did. Feelings, it does not need to be said, we need more these days than most.

 

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