Grace Episcopal Church, San Marcos CA sponsored a church outing and picnic a week ago Sunday. I was blessed to be able to attend it. It was unlike any church picnic that I have attended in my life. It was a surfing picnic.
About thirty members of the congregation, of all ages, drove about 20 minutes from their church building directly after the main worship service last Sunday morning, to a public beach in Carlsbad CA. They brought food, surfboards, boogie boards, beach chairs, and beach towels with them. The parish banner on its staff was one of the first items on the beach. It informed the participants as well as the others that this was a church gathering.
Perhaps a dozen surfboards and as many boogie boards were brought by a few of the church members for the participants of the party to use. Two older men, Tom and Gary, who have surfed all of their lives encouraged everyone by giving instruction to groups and individuals. They did not hotdog by showing off all of the fancy maneuvers that they could perform. It was clear that they were there to help others, to encourage others to get out in the water and have fun safely.
Throughout the afternoon young kids to senior citizens picked up a surfboard or boogie board and gave the surf a try. The usual activity was to take an idle board out in the surf and play and practice with it for awhile. Then the person would bring it back to the party on the beach, put down the board, stop by the refreshments and get something to drink or a hotdog and some chips to eat. There would be conversing with others and watching others have fun in the surf, then, when the spirit moved them, they would pick up a different board and go back out to try something else.
Those on the shore, while conversing, watched the participants in the surf. There were cheers for even small successes and laughter frequently. Some of the surfers would end their ride or their fall with a graceful bow to the cheers and laughter on the beach.
I am confident in stating that a good time was had by all.
Ocean surf is a few hours away from my home parish in Seattle. Surfing is not a popular activity in my home parish. We don’t have surfing picnics after worship on Sunday. I wish that we did. Surely God was present with Grace Church at the beach in Southern California last week.