Once, in a beer joint outside Mobile, Alabama, I was watching the 2013 Iron Bowl. The Tigers whooped the Righteous Tide during the remaining thirty-two seconds of the game.

Fairhope, Alabama—I am with a thousand Episcopalians in the woods at Camp Beckwith. For the entire weekend, I have been wishing someone would eventually say to me:

“The Lord be with you.”

Then, I would answer with a quick: “And also with you.”

Because I’ve always wanted to say this. This is what Piskies say to each other, before they give each other a secret handshake and discuss world domination.

But alas, nobody has said this to me since I’ve been here. And don’t it turn my brown eyes blue.

Anyway, this morning is warm. Beckwith sits on Weeks Bay, surrounded by longleaf pines, magnolias, and mosquitoes who commit immoral acts upon your skin. It’s perfect.

I am here for a weekend of festivities. I am staying in a cabin next door to a bishop.

I had to call my mother to tell her this.

“Oh my word!” said Mama. “A REAL bishop?!”

I come from deepwater Baptists. The only bishops we have ever seen are the sort on chess boards.

At last year’s camp excursion, for instance, I slept in this same cabin, next to this same bishop. I told a friend back home about it. Word spread around town.

After church one Sunday, an elderly man shook my hand and said, “So, tell me what it was like sleeping next to the Pope.”

“He’s not the Pope,” I said.

“Did he have a bulletproof limousine?”

“No, he was a bishop, and he’s just a regular guy.”

“How about a pointy hat? Did he have one of those?”

Maybe.

Anyway, daybreak is approaching. The sun peeks above the tree line. And all at once, the camp is alive.

Laughter. That’s the main event here. At least that’s what one woman tells me. She’s from Magnolia Springs. She is walking to the mess hall for breakfast with an elderly woman.

“We come to Beckwith to laugh and have a good time,” she says. “That’s what we Episcopalians are known for.”

Her friend laughs. “Well, that, and vodka.”

They both cackle.

I can hear kids, teenagers, adults, middle-agers, and the elderly, chuckling from a mile away. Every last one of them seems happy this morning. It’s a magnificent sound, happiness.

(slap!)

I hear a screen door slam.

This sound comes from the cabin next to me. The bishop is leaving his porch to start his morning. He wears no pointy hat, but an Auburn University shirt, shorts, and sneakers. He doesn’t look like any bishop I’ve ever seen.

Then again, I haven’t met many bishops. Last night this fella got me a beer from a cooler. Then he placed it in a coozie.

No member of the clergy has ever handed me an Anheuser Busch product.

I almost call out to him: “The Lord be with you!”

But, I rethink this idea. This would be silly. After all, I don’t want to come off looking like a total nerd bucket in front of a bishop.

Still, I like this particular greeting.

Once, in a beer joint outside Mobile, I was watching the Iron Bowl. It was 2013. The Tigers whooped the Tide during the last thirty-two seconds of the game.

The joint went buck wild. A fistfight broke out among patrons. But, before things got messy—I’m not making this up—the fight was stopped by a man who shouted, “The Lord be with you!”

Voices hushed. The place turned into a sanctuary.

“And also with you,” came a response.

Magic words, I tell you.

I’m leaving my cabin porch for a morning walk. I am moseying, exploring heavenly scenery within God’s front yard.

Dew lingers on the grass. Birds serenade the sunrise. There is a rock chapel near the bay. It’s a small semi-circle of heavy stones which form a mini-amphitheater.

Morning light washes across these rocks until they are fiery orange. Clouds above begin to break, and the sun is getting stronger. The bay water catches a breeze and begins to move. It all makes me sigh.

Because the world is coming back to life. Just like it does every morning. And I believe that no matter how dark things get on moonless nights, and no matter how bad things look without the sun, nothing lasts forever.

Every morning, a miracle happens—like it’s happening right now. The sun rises. And the rest is history.

And I am lucky to see it. I’m beginning to feel something for which I have no words. A sensation in my chest. A humbling feeling, just from seeing an average sunrise.

Two middle-aged women are out for a morning walk, carrying coffee mugs. They smile. They wave at me.

“The Lord be with you, Sean,” one woman says.

Well.

I finally got to say it.

34 comments

  1. Sandi in FL. - September 30, 2018 6:12 am

    One evening not long ago I was very upset about something, and quite blue. My phone rang, and the friend calling could hear in my voice that I was unhappy. We talked for abour 30 minutes, and she ended our telecon like this: “Tomorrow is a new day. The sun will rise again in the east. You will smile again.” Well, sure enough, it did. And yes, I did.

    Reply
  2. Rhonda Howell - September 30, 2018 10:52 am

    Some times, timing has a mind of its own. I opened my mail to read this right after listening to someone who knows nothing of faith rant for 30 minutes about what a fool I was for my beliefs. He seriously needs to spend some time in a bar in Alabama with 2 little white headed ladies and a bishop with entertainment provided by a choir full of lovely black singers that can make every hair on your body stand up and shout Hallelujah! And me also!

    Reply
  3. Barbara Pope - September 30, 2018 11:10 am

    If I wasn’t a Methodist I would think very seriously about becoming an Episcopalian–I already know the greeting.

    Reply
  4. Pamela Mills - September 30, 2018 11:31 am

    I saw a post with the classic song “Simple Man” this morning….it made me think of you! I enjoy your writings so much. You touch that place in all of us that makes us want to be better people! Thank you! I, too am one of those “Baptist’s from the womb”……so I will just say…God Bless You!

    Reply
  5. Janie's Jottings - September 30, 2018 11:34 am

    Perfect read while heading for church!

    Reply
  6. Nancy Thomaston Rogers - September 30, 2018 11:40 am

    And also with you…

    Reply
  7. Debora Colvin - September 30, 2018 11:55 am

    As a person who was raised a deep water Baptist, but became an Episcopalian (Piskie, I love your abbreviation!) as an adult, I just love this piece! I was grinning ear to ear as I read it. I still can’t stop smiling. Thank you for making all of us happy and “The Lord be with you”!

    Reply
  8. Joy - September 30, 2018 12:26 pm

    Thank you for another great post! It is always wonderful when we can be refreshed physically, emotionally and spiritually, May the Lord be with you…and all your readers! Love you Sean!

    Reply
  9. Jackye Thompson - September 30, 2018 12:39 pm

    The Lord Be With You,Sean.Enjoy Beckwith .Wish I could be there ,next yesrc.
    Tell all hi from St.Judes Niceville.
    Jackye T

    Reply
  10. B. Daniel - September 30, 2018 1:33 pm

    The Peace of Christ be with you

    Reply
  11. Terri C Boykin - September 30, 2018 1:53 pm

    Grew up Presbyterian, attended a Baptist Church for awhile, and now I’m a member of a Wesleyan Church, hey y’all GOD LOVES YA!!

    Reply
  12. Josie - September 30, 2018 2:09 pm

    Wonderful post, Sean. We watched the sunrise not far from you.
    The Lord be with you always. He is in that pen you push!

    Reply
  13. Allie - September 30, 2018 3:02 pm

    And also with you.

    The whole liturgy is lovely. I got disenchanted with the fallout over the schism in the late 90’s, as did many. But the Anglican Communion is still home.

    Lift up your hearts. We lift them up unto the Lord!

    Thank you, Sean. You bless us all.

    Reply
  14. Cathi - September 30, 2018 4:39 pm

    The Lord is with you always, Sean! And Mobile Bay’s Eastern Shore is truly a magical place.

    Reply
  15. Carol-Ann Dearnaley - September 30, 2018 4:53 pm

    And also with you.

    Reply
  16. Walt Carter - September 30, 2018 5:35 pm

    Sean:
    Being a “Piskie” for over 55 years, I really enjoyed your post. I am now forwarding it to our priest and I’m sure he will agree with me. I read you every day and many thanks.
    Walt Carter, Valdosta, GA Christ Episcopal Church

    Reply
  17. Tricia - September 30, 2018 6:39 pm

    The Lord be with you. From All Saints Anglican Church in Jackson Tn.

    Reply
  18. B - September 30, 2018 6:44 pm

    TY, needed this.

    Reply
  19. Leah - September 30, 2018 6:58 pm

    Sean!!! I love that cabin!!! I stay there with some of my closest friends, twice a year, and we spend the weekend scrapbooking! Camp Beckwith IS a beautiful place….just a little slice of heaven, isn’t it?? I absolutely love reading your posts everyday. You are so real, transparent, down to earth….you are just a breath of fresh air. Thank you for sharing your heart…and for letting us see inside…even the places that are painful. God has given you an incredible talent….and I cannot wait to see Him continue to use you!

    Reply
  20. Robert Chiles - September 30, 2018 7:09 pm

    The Lord is always with you. Started out Baptist. Then Pagan. Then Charismatic. Now Episcopalian for 38 years, and a priest for 28. But when we get to where we’re going, there won’t be any questions about denomination. Just one question from Jesus- “Do you love me?”

    Reply
    • Gretchen Faulhaber - October 2, 2018 1:22 am

      Oooooh, this gives me chills, wonderful, beautiful, chills….such a lovely thought, a lovely statement, a lovely truth…..Thank you..🌹

      Reply
  21. Edna B. - September 30, 2018 7:57 pm

    Thank you for this awesome story. I loved, loved it! I too, believe there is magic in the sunrise. God Bless you, Sean. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  22. Gretchen - September 30, 2018 9:12 pm

    Peace be with you, Sean, from Church of the Resurrection, Starkville, Mississippi!

    Reply
  23. Susan - September 30, 2018 11:40 pm

    You are in all of us.

    Reply
  24. Karen Irby - October 1, 2018 12:28 am

    And peace be with you and yours from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Jackson, Alabama!

    Reply
  25. Stuart - October 1, 2018 3:28 am

    An Episcopalian frolic. A back slapping, beer drinking good time.
    Jer 6:16 KJV

    Reply
  26. karen peters - October 1, 2018 3:34 am

    I’ve had the privilege of visiting Fairhope, and your word picture gives me the feeling of being there again. There aren’t many Episcopalians in small towns in the Bible Belt, but we Methodists are pretty close kin.

    Reply
  27. Jean - October 1, 2018 11:37 am

    I love this one. It made me chuckle more than once. Thanks!

    Reply
  28. Donna - October 1, 2018 11:44 am

    Sean, your words took this “Piskies’s” breath away. Thank you. And the Lord be with you.

    Reply
  29. Sue - October 1, 2018 1:05 pm

    I needed the words “Nothing lasts forever”. There are some times I think some things will never change but those words remind me that they will. God is in charge and He knows alll about what is going on and He has a plan.

    Reply
  30. Susan Chids - October 1, 2018 1:07 pm

    Enjoyed your words…felt like I was there ….thank you for sharing your thoughts with all. and also with you!

    Reply
  31. Carol - October 1, 2018 1:26 pm

    God is with us al the time!!
    We just forget!
    Thank you for reminding me!!
    God is with you Sean!
    Love ya!

    Reply
  32. Shelton Armour - October 1, 2018 6:12 pm

    We ‘Piskies’ are just good, regular folk with the occasional bad apple in the bunch. Like every church in America…our Bishop lives with a German Shepherd always by his side. He’ll share some wine with you. We even have our evangelicals-I’m one and proud of it. But, like I said, we’re just regular folk. Talk to us sometime. You might be pleasantly surprised at just how regular and normal we are.

    Reply
  33. Stephen Macpherson - October 2, 2018 11:55 am

    Loved the piece. As a cradle Catholic, the “Peace be with you” greeting, followed by the handshake/hug of the parishioners around you and the “also with you” response has always been one of my favorite parts of the modern Mass. It is the essence of the Community of God’s people joined together to celebrate the Good News of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for each of us. For me, this moment is always uplifting and joyous as we begin to prepare ourselves to receive the Holy Eucharist.

    Reply

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