Monday, August 30, 2010

Reading, ranting and religion


It's sunday evening and it's freakin hot. Ninety degrees and counting. I grab a book from my stack of NaNo raffle prize / Barnes & Noble clearance bin purchases, pack up the kids and head to the beach.

The parking lot is packed. The beach is over-crowded. We find a small haven between the three foot trench someone dug earlier in the day and a couple yelling at their kid to stop throwing sand. The water is cool and clear - for once since we haven't had a good rain storm in weeks to stir it up into its usual muddy look. Waves slurp at the shoreline, filled with kids and a sampling of rafts, tubes and floaties. My kids wade out to join the others. I kick back with my book in the desperate hope that it will be far better than the last.

Thank goodness it was, because I don't have the patience to scrape another learning experience from reading something far less than stellar after the last few books.

While I've heard the majority of the advice offered in this book before, it didn't hurt to hear it again. The positive and realistic light shed by the host of successful novelists was refreshing, uplifting and sometimes even downright humorous. Though I haven't yet come across any 'insider secrets', it is filled with lots of helpful tips and advice. I'd recommend this book to anyone who doesn't have access to a critique group with experienced writers.

As I was busy reading the tirade on writing muses and percolating the issue I'm having with the ending on the short story I'm revising, I became aware of multiple feet gathering behind me. The chatter level grew to a volume I could no longer tune out. My reading and pondering oasis was shattered. I turned around.

A hundred-some people stood behind me, all dressed in beach-going attire but milling around and showing no sign of settling down. Mostly teens and thirty-somethings, these folks gathered into a tight cluster and raised their hands. At least they quieted down at this point so I went back to reading. Or trying to.

"AMEN!"

I jump a little and turn around. Don't tell me...

And then the guitar starts. And the singing.

Yes, a hundred-some folks have decended on the packed public beach, on a ninety degree day, the last weekend before schools starts when everyone is making their last big beach trek, to hold a church service. And not just any church service, oh no.

"Hallelujah!"

The crowd breaks and decends on the beach, heedless of the families they have interupted, the children's sandcastles, and the people that are grabbing their lawnchairs, towels and bags and relocating. Half of the church people wade out into the water, sending kids running in all directions as their swimming space is taken up by the crowd. People with cameras wade out further as do several others. An akward hush takes over the entire beach as a baptism takes place - everyone attempting to be respectful of the occasion thrust upon us all.

The teen boy comes up from the water after being dunked and lets out a loud cheer. The church crowd claps and cheers along with him.

Ok, fine. They're done. Everyone can go back to playing in the water, resuming their conversations and I can go back to reading my book. Don't get me wrong, but if I wanted to be included in a church service, I'd have gone to church instead of the beach.

The crowd doesn't disperse. No, no. They go on to perform thirteen other baptisms with thirteen other rounds of cheering and clapping. I attempt to block out the noise. People attempt to play quietly in the water.

At this point I overhear the suggestion that the masses should go among the beach-goes and spread the love of the church. Seriously? As if you haven't impossed on everyone enough already? I'm sure if anyone felt moved by the ceremony and wanted to join you, they'd know which cheering, guitar-toting, we're-taking-over-the-beach gaggle of half soaked people to approach.

An exodus began from those within earshot of the group. We joined them.

Thank you, church group, for making my last time at the beach with my kids this summer less enjoyable than putting up with the annoying kid who was obessed with jabbing an empty plastic bottle with a large stick for half an hour. He had a right to be on the public beach too, but at least his parents eventually yelled at him for being inconsiderate of others.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the heads-up on the book.

    Hate that your last trip to the beach was ruined by people so caught up in the rightness of their beliefs that they trampled on you -- like a parade gone wild.

    It is not unlike those who pull up beside you at a stop light, their music blaring so loud it vibrates YOUR windows. I'm glad they enjoy their style of music -- just let me enjoy mine.

    You have a great blog, Roland

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  2. Thanks, Roland. Now I'm going to think of you next time that vibrating window thing happens. :)

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  3. Funny story. Ah, life. It's rarely quiet. That's why writer are consistently stressed.

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