Sunday, May 21, 2006

Easy Like Sunday Morning (and Afternoon)

I’d forgotten the sound of silence, after living in central Amsterdam for so long, but I was serendipitously reminded of its glory by the pre-dawn hush of Bowling Green. In the apartment of old friends, I rolled over on my make-shift bed, sighed contently, and went back to sleep. It felt great to be back in America on this Sunday morning.

We had a relaxed breakfast -- no pressing responsibilities for the day ahead and plenty of golden memories to laugh about -- then we slowly prepared to wander downtown for a gathering of the saints in the pub above Easystreet. A late morning worship gathering in this downtown Bowling Green institution provided a glad reunion with my old h2o church family, and I was encouraged for the opportunity to share some stories from Amsterdam. Even though three-quarters of the people in the room were unfamiliar, the atmosphere was as comfortable and easy as my college days. A homecoming.

After the worship gathering, a group of us went downstairs to the Easystreet restaurant... I had heard from other American-Amsterdammers that a return to the conscientious customer service of America can feel overwhelming and annoying... But as for me, well, I ain’t buyin’ it. We felt like royalty in the customer service of Easystreet Café -- waited upon moments after sitting down, served good hot food quickly, pampered by the wait staff intuitively responding to the needs of our small children. When I searched the table for my glass of Dr. Pepper -- which had been only a third-full when I had last set it down -- I felt a surge of American patriotism well up within my chest, as my eyes discovered that my glass had been secretly filled, unsolicited, by our dutiful waitress. Purple mountains majesty, amber waves of grain, and unlimited free refills on all my favorite carbonated beverages... Indeed, in that moment, I revered America the Beautiful.

After lunch, Marci’s parents were waiting to pick us up and drive us the hour and a half through the northern Ohio countryside to their farm in Crawford County. The sun shined warmly, the children napped peacefully, and the telephone poles flickered past in a comforting cadence that could hardly have been more idyllic -- until I noticed that it was just past two o’clock in the afternoon and thus time to adjust the radio dial to FM 91.3: National Public Radio, broadcasting the classic “Prairie Home Companion.” A perfect afternoon became even better. The moment was sublime.

I will be the first to confess that America has her faults (which have already been readily noticeable on this pilgrimage and which will likely serve as fodder for future reflections) -- but she also has her glories. And on an easy Sunday in May, I reveled in the glories of my Homeland.


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