“So…why do people go to church every Sunday morning,” my sister, brother and I would ask my parents every Sunday morning growing up? “Give us one good reason.”
“So they don’t grow up to lie, cheat or steal,” my parents would answer.
This answer never made any sense to me. Every time I tried to lie, I’d hear myself and burst into laughter. And I was too severely lacking in both the mental and manual dexterity to play cards, let alone cheat. As far for stealing, I was far too paranoid a child to try that. People were always watching me and I just knew I’d get caught. Besides, what’s the point of stealing stuff if they don’t let you keep it?
It’s funny how some questions stay with you long after their context has faded away in time. Like old habits, they come and they go only to return at the oddest of times. And so last Sunday morning, as I returned to camp after a pre-dawn roost check, the question… like some unwanted ear worm, returned. “Why DO people go to church on Sunday mornings”?
And that’s when I saw Joe kneeling in seeming repentant reverence at the left rear tire of the white Dodge pickup truck. Around him, a veritable tide of tools and auto parts seemed to rise as the air above filled with four lettered words, each beginning with the word, “God.” It was, after all, Sunday.
“Brakes”? I asked.
“Brakes” Joe replied, his clothes already awash in sweat.
I slowly and carefully turned and quietly crept away to the relative safety of the “Jambo.” I knew from having watched the movie, “Jurassic Park” that predators detect motion. That’s when that other, often asked question popped into my head. “What’s it like to work with birds”?
“What birds?” my thought balloon answer would always bubble up when asked. The reality is that most of our time is spent working on all the other things the project requires; the trucks, the van, the trailers and motorhome, the pen trailers, generators, pumps and on and on. Each requires maintenance and repair and you can’t walk out the door in the morning without hearing at least one of them calling to you, “Help Me. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”!
The point is, to work with whooping cranes is to work with all things mechanical… knuckle busting and frustrating as they may be… and if the only song one knows how to sing is, “I Love Birds and Birds Love Me” well, a job on a whooper reintroduction project isn’t going to be a good fit.
But back to the original question, “Why do people go to church on Sunday?”
I secretly peaked out through a small slit in the curtain, watching Joe fighting the good fight as if a Christian fighting a Roman Gladiator in the Coliseum. And that’s when, after more than sixty years, the answer to the question finally came to me.
“They go to church to avoid having to stay home and work on their damn pickup trucks”!