I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me….
“….Get Into Your Sanctuary This Weekend!” came the email invitation from NOAA.gov.
OK, I love going to the House of the Lord, but why is the federal government urging me to go to church? Some right wing plot, or a breach of the First Amendment?
No, they mean my NATIONAL MARINE Sanctuary, because this weekend, June 25-26, is the second annual NOAA “Get Into Your Sanctuary” weekend.
They are right, of course, about the ocean being a sanctuary, a holy place. What a great way to worship, to feel religious and spiritual, by getting wet and sandy, having fun, swimming and diving and surfing and boating, seeing wonderful sea creatures. How great thou art, oh government, to call our amazing nationwide system of marine park reserves “Sanctuaries.” They too are holy homes of the divine.
Or you could just lie on the beach and pray and sleep. Sing sea shanties. So many ways to say Thank You God, for oceans and water and air.
The Sanctuary Weekend is cosponsored by “Every Kid in a Park,” another federal effort to encourage active participation in the great outdoors. When President Obama was in Yosemite last week he reminded us of his two year offer (ends August 31, 2016) to every 4th grader and their family of free admission to all national parks. The Yosemite rangers told him over 5000 4th graders have already come there free, and that over 1100 of them who came from nearby Merced County had never been to Yosemite.
Obama introduced the plan with this familiar phrase, “No matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks, our monuments, our lands, our waters – these places are your birthright as Americans.”
So any of you who work with 4th graders, including church school teachers - go to <everykidinapark.gov> and download the cool lesson plans and the forms for the free passes for the kids and their families, and then go to a national park!
Or visit a marine sanctuary! (They’re mostly free already.)
I recommend visiting your church sanctuary this Sunday too, but if you have to choose, I’d say, get outdoors, get wet, breath deep, say thanks.
(We are beginning a busy summer of youth groups and adult retreats at our Blue Theology Mission Station in Pacific Grove and we’ll be spending time both in our lovely sanctuary and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Still some room in August. Bluetheology.com)