June 25, 2023 Essay: I Didn’t Go To Church Today
You may have recognized the title of one of Ogden Nash’s whimsical poems. It reads:
I didn’t go to church today,
I trust the Lord to understand.
The surf was swirling blue and white,
The children swirling in the sand.
He knows, he knows how brief my stay.
How brief this spell of summer weather.
He knows when I am said and done,
We’ll have plenty of time together.
How beguiling the thought of a summer without the worry of getting out of bed early in the morning or searching for a church when far from home! The call of the rhythmic lapping of the waves on a sandy beach can be intoxicating. It begins to synchronize with the beating of your heart and beckons you closer. The allure of a picture-perfect, carefree day is difficult to resist. After all, there are only so many days of summer, and even fewer where all the stars align to offer you the best that summer has to offer. I didn’t go to church today, I trust the Lord to understand.
Let’s face it. There is nothing quite like a summer’s day. Poets have celebrated it since the beginning of time. Painters have tried to capture it on canvas. Songwriters have married melodies to the whispering sound of willows swaying in the breeze. Ah, summertime! The din of laughter as children frolic in the fields, the sound of the crack of their bats on sandlots, and chores finished in record time, so they run outside and revel in the newfound freedom of no homework. Our steps are lighter, our worries a million miles away, our spirits lifted beyond the azure blue sky that only summer reveals. You can envision it clearly. The surf was swirling blue and white, The children swirling in the sand.
And in the quiet of a balmy night, we reminisce to the cadence of the porch’s swing and are embraced by our memories of summers past – the innocence of youth, the sweetness of that first kiss, our loved ones whose summer days and lives have run their course. He knows, he knows how brief my stay. How brief this spell of summer weather.
There is a beauty to summer that no writer’s pen, no painter’s brush, no composer’s score can truly capture. The radiance of life is arrayed in all its glory. The majesty of nature is reflected in the gaze of those who look in wonder. It is as though we are transported to another realm. Time ceases; warmth embraces; and joy is rapturous. It is a season we long for, for a period filled with sensations and experiences that hold the promise of our heart’s desire, to feel alive to the world around us and savor a foretaste of what is to come. He knows when I am said and done, We’ll have plenty of time together.
There is a wisdom to the whimsy of Nash’s verses. A superficial reading of his poem would miss the underlying relevance that I believe he sees in the importance of going to church, whether it be summer, winter, spring, or fall. To fail at this betrays the significance of what he wrote. In four uncomplicated verses Nash has given his readers the reasons to want to go to church each day – the wonder and beauty of nature, the glow of youth, the treasure chest of memories, and the preciousness of life itself. These are God’s gifts to each one of us.
Perhaps during the summer months, we can compose verses to I Happily Went To Church On A Summer’s Day.
Happy Summer! Happy Writing!
– Fr. Dennis J. Yesalonia, S.J., Pastor