One Sunday Afternoon

May 5, 2008
By Meg Dowell, Homewood, IL

We sat in a circle under the shade of the gazebo, some of us in chairs, and some of us on the single picnic table that was there. Except for Matt, who held his guitar in his hands, and Jono, who held the djembe in-between his knees, we were all holding Bibles.
There were eight of us. The instrumentalists took one look at each other, and Matt’s strumming pattern began. Soon after, the beat of the djembe echoed in our ears, fitting perfectly with the chords played on the guitar.
I flipped through Psalms, looking for anything that would fit our purpose. Caitlin and Jackson were to my left, and Tori, Amanda, and Katie sat to the right of me. Being the singers – all except for Caitlin, who was the other guitarist in the group – we sat close and glanced at each other every now and then.
Despite the chilling winds blowing through our hair, we were somehow able to keep warm. We all took turns, in no specific order, improvising a random verse every now and again. We came up with simple melodies to fit the words, harmonized with one another, echoed each other’s words and smiled as everything seemed to fit.
Some were prayers, and some were verses. We all knew that the melodies we sang, the prayers we prayed, and the verses we chose could only come from God. And that was what made our time out there so special.
Every once in awhile, I would open my eyes after praying silently to myself or look up after I had sung a short verse. I looked at the people all around me; I watched Jono’s hands beat the tiny drum and Matt’s hands strum on his guitar. I watched Katie and Tori flip through Psalms, deep in concentration. I watched Amanda glance across the circle at her twin sister and smile, and I watched Caitlin smile back. I watched Jackson sit there with his eyes closed, praying or deep in thought, and smiled when he opened them and looked at me.
I couldn’t help but smile to myself. We were all here, spending a Sunday afternoon together, just worshiping the Lord. At that moment, nothing mattered except Him. All of our problems, all of the stress in our lives, was pushed aside as we sang our hearts out to the God we all loved as much as we could.
And then, as it became clear that our time together like this would soon come to a close, it hit me. Tears came to my eyes, and I let them slide down my cheeks as I breathed a prayer of thanks up to Heaven.
For, in that moment, I realized something that I had needed to realize for longer than I could comprehend, and the knowledge that I had finally found the answer to my strange emptiness and longing for attention overwhelmed me.
This was where I belonged. And no one could ever take that away from me.

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