Rainy. Morning. Sunday. Mother’s day.

Most Sunday mornings find me easing into the day even more so than I am accustomed. The only plan I have for a Sunday morning is to go to church with Lisa. I pick her up at 9:30, an easy trip for me since she lives in the condo building next to mine. If I am late, she is waiting in the drive as I pull out of my garage, shaming me good naturedly as she opens the passenger door of my Subaru. We’re both punctual. When I first started dating Lisa two years ago, it took me a while to get used to a woman who was always on time. Now, if we are getting together and she is meeting me at her place, I know to expect a text exactly one minute before she is to arrive — OMW. I descend the steps from my unit to the courtyard entrance door, wait for her to appear a few seconds later at the window.

Before church time, I usually take some time simply in the quiet of my kitchen or in a corner booth at the local Panera, bible or laptop in front of me. The Panera thing has been my Sunday thing for quite a while, something I have written about here many times, a habit I like to keep. The bible in front of me is a new habit, a discipline I have wanted to create for a good part of my life, and I like how church feels when my morning has already focused on bringing me to God. Worship is so much better that way, my heart already opened, and my Sunday morning bible reading almost always is what I know is going to be the passage the pastor is going to teach from. Revelation has been the teaching for the past few months, a book of the bible that I have always found ominous, foreboding. I have been reading a book my dad sent to me, one specific to Revelation in the Warren Wiersbe series, Be Victorious, along with reading Revelation. That also adds to my understanding, opens my eyes to the encouragement found in Revelation. Instead of finding myself shaking in my boots during the church worship service, I find myself buoyed and thankful… a true worship experience that brings me the renewal that coming closer to God’s presence is meant to do. I can honestly say that church has never been a duty for me. It’s always been essential to my existence, a feeding of sorts, as vital as the air that I breathe.

Having Lisa next to me at church has also helped bring back the joy to my worship experience. I don’t know if I have written about it here, but church had a sad note to it for several years, when my marriage was already failed and I was just hanging on with the hope that not giving up would pay off. I was alone at church those last few years, although my daughter tried to keep me company towards the end. The church I attended was awesome, wonderful, with music and teaching that was over the top good, but it was a lonely place without my wife (and usually my family) either not there or sitting in a different part of the auditorium. That has changed now, especially after I decided about 18 months ago to go to Lisa’s church (a tough decision to leave the church I helped start after 30 years). Now, I have Lisa next to me, often along with her granddaughter and son. I love it when she puts her hand on my hand during prayers and holds my hand during the worship songs. If Lisa and I end up together, it’s going largely be because she shares herself in worship with me.

I’m not in church this morning. It’s mother’s day. I slept past 8 this morning, knowing that the rain would keep me off the bike, knowing that this is not a good day for Lisa. It’s a difficult day for her. Mother’s day two years ago was the last time she saw her youngest son, Greg. He went to church with her that morning, where he fussed over making sure she got the flower that each mother at the service was to receive, then cooked for her when they got home. I shook hands with him that day as he left with a friend after lunch. About a week later, he was found in the weeds off of I-88, just before the Aurora toll, dead from a drug overdose. Mother’s day will never be the same for her, a reminder of the last day she saw her youngest son. This morning, she wanted to be alone, as she wants to be when her heart is heavy for him. I have learned it’s best to give her the time to be alone when she is thinking about her son. She needs to mourn. So this morning we skipped church because of the memory that brings to her, will instead watch it online together later on this week. I am going to take her to the botanical gardens later on this afternoon, when I know she will need me and will need to get away.

It’s Sunday morning. Raining. Mother’s day. I have a lot to be thankful for, glad for the refuge Sunday morning has once again become. I pray for Lisa this morning. Send her little text messages. I also thank God for the memories of my mother on this day, precious because Sundays are wonderful because of her influence. Even though she passed a little while ago, I am happy to be able to think about what she showed me about God, about the joy of life and church and so many things. One of the reasons Sunday morning is special to me is her example, someone who went to church because God was a part of her. She taught me to know God, not just know about God. I will be eternally grateful.