Sunday, November 13, 2005

On Sundays we climb on Arabia Mountain and get stuck in a mega-church traffic jam

At around 11:30 a.m. this Sunday, half way through the church hour, we began to climb the granite face of Arabia Mountain, a now preserved wilderness area in Lithonia, a fast growing area of our county. Though we had hiked there a couple of times late last winter, in time to see the red blooms of a rare mossy plant that opens up from January to late spring, this time we missed our turn and continued out what was recently a tumble down country road. In place of early 20th century farmhouse buildings and mid-century brick ranches, there are mansionettes with circular driveways and black iron gates.Once turned around and parked and ascending the pitted slope with its pale green lichen and moss and its rare black spored quill wort, we could only see the edge of one subdivision. We sat on a large flat outcropping for a few minutes, catching the high calls of birds and highway roar, several airplanes, and a police radio. But even so, it was majestic in this week's alternative sanctuary.I counted nine cars in the parking lot and two groups climbing near us. On the way down, others were coming up: middle-aged hippies and a party of Hindus. They seemed to know their way among the boulders and the piles of stones marking the gentle and least obstrusive path up to the top vista. Careless footsteps can destroy a thousand potential blossoms.On the way back to town, the freeway was clogged. Those few minutes we got lost, we had noticed the street leading to New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a multi-thousand black mega church. Perhaps the unexpected weekend jam was just people leaving their praise worship on the way to favorite lunch places. I wondered how many even knew about the place where I had just met the divine:soundless, nameless and without gender.

Rev. Marti