Getting There Early
Early last Thursday morning, an hour before the Aquarium opened, I got the rare chance to see our two old lady green sea turtles in their “sun therapy” pool on the roof. It reminded me of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote about getting to church early.
A perk of being a volunteer guide at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is we arrive at 8:30 AM, get a weekly marine biology lesson, and then sometimes the staff takes us behind the scenes, before the visitors show up at 10.
These 60 year old reptiles, who usually swim inside the million gallon Open Sea Exhibit, need regular Vitamin D exposure to keep their shells hard and protective. So early Thursday is their time for fun in the sun. Sort of like taking my calcium pills - us oldsters need extra vitamins to stay strong.
Emerson wrote “I like the silent church before the service begins……” I have seen this quotation in nice calligraphy on signs at church entrances, meaning, “Shut up already before you go into the sanctuary.”
My husband the Unitarian Universalist historian (and great preacher) reminded me that the whole Emerson quotation is, “I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.”
I am very fond of the moment when the Aquarium doors open and hundreds of visitors stream in. Feels like the prelude, call to worship and opening hymn – I was glad when they said, let us go into the house of the Lord. Anticipation, discovery, connection, gratitude, community.
But that quiet moment before the rush, when it is just us few staff and volunteers and the animals, a small moment behind the scenes – precious, priceless, prayerful, peaceful.
I almost feel like a verger or a deacon, scraping off the old wax from yesterday’s candles, setting out chairs and orders of worship.
In those moments before all those worshippers arrive, we are glad to see the acolytes, the choir, the deacons, the old mother turtles, blessed worship leaders.
Bluetheology.com. When folks come on retreat and service at our Blue Theology Mission Station on Monterey Bay, we often get up early and walk by the sea. Lovely prelude and call to worship. I post these ocean devotionals every Wednesday here and on Facebook. Photo: NOAA