Last weekend, four events converged at roughly the same time. First, we completed one year, plus a month, of the pandemic. Secondly, the season of Lent, always a challenging time, came to a close Saturday. Thirdly, the holiest, most celebrative day of the church year, Easter, was concluded. Fourthly, on Monday I had my day off and the first day of several days that I would be taking for a mini “staycation.”
Along about 2 p.m. on Monday, I decided to go for a short motorcycle ride. The weather was warm, the rain was over, the flowers were blooming, and a cloudless blue sky beckoned. Once underway, I decided to stop for a few minutes at the Senoia City Park Marimac Lakes.
A few years ago, a terrible rainstorm caused the dam to break and all the water flowed out. The lake became a giant mud hole and eyesore. It was the year that a number of bridges and roads were washed away in Coweta and Fayette counties. Repair work on all the projects took months and longer than that for things to return to normal.
Today, there are three small lakes, a historic home, picnic tables, bike and golf carts paths (which are also used by walkers), a swing that was the result an Eagle Scout project, and a population of ducks. People go there to fish, to feed the ducks — which may be against the rules — and enjoy the outdoors. The park is easily visible and accessible from Highway 34.
I rode in, parked my bike, and walked down to two of the lakes where I threw a few scraps of meat in the water for the fish, turtles, or whatever prowled the waters. Then I sat in the swing.
I started to look at my phone, check email, and maybe browse social media but, inexplicably, chose not to. I chose rather to simply look around. There were several families with small children in tow, most of them on the side of the lake with the ducks. Some were in the water, some on the shore. The ducks, not the children.
To my right were two young teenage girls who could have been sisters or friends sharing a picnic table, munching on something, and lost in their own world of conversation. A mother and a young son were casting lines in the water, hoping for some action on the lake. A man, perhaps retired, was walking his dog. And yet, the park wasn’t crowded, and nothing appeared rushed.
Then I listened. One is still close enough to the highway to hear the cars and trucks travel on the road but that sound was not enough to drown out the sound of the birds singing in what seemed to be a choir of feathered occupants of the park. The ducks, too, sang out in their own unique way.
The sun was warm, but not hot, and a gentle breeze wafted through the trees who added their own sound to the symphony, and the smell of the lake water reminded me of childhood days at the lake with my grandfather. People came and people went at their own leisurely pace.
The longer I sat in the swing, the more the tension left my neck and shoulders, a burden common to pastors but never more so than in the season of Covid. Most of us take neither our days off nor our vacation days as we should. The simple fact is that a member of the clergy is on call 24/7, 365 days of the year and 366 in Leap Year. The only way most of feel we can get off alone is to leave the country, which is usually impractical.
Or maybe not. When I finally glanced at my watch, I had been in the park for three hours. It was 5 p.m. and I was totally relaxed and even refreshed. Even the ride home was more peaceful and enjoyable than the ride I had taken three hours earlier.
Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that add so much to life. Sometimes it’s those moments that allow us to have a life at all. That wasn’t the first time I had been to the park, but it was the first in which I had no agenda.
One friend said that time on his motorcycle is “wind therapy.” I believe that “lake therapy” may also have health benefits, especially mental health benefits. I’ll try to do more of both in the coming months. Lord knows, I need therapy!
[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). The church is open at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays but is also live streaming at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life). He may contacted at email@example.com.]