Ponderings by Doug

Recently my bride and I took a short trip to the beach. It was a perfect beach trip for an old guy and his wife. We looked at the beach from the fourth floor of the condo. We did go down to the beach one morning and take a quick walk. I love the sound of the waves. I like watching the various characters on the beach. I have never been a sand fan. Sand manages to get everywhere. Sand will find its way into places that are an abomination.

I knew I was getting old when I noted what people were wearing on the beach and wondering if their parents knew they were out on the beach dressed like that. One summer, I followed some people up and down the beach so I could read their tattoos. I participated in no such behavior this time. Although I will note for you that tattoos seem to have multiplied exponentially on people since the 1990’s.

Being at or near the beach was fun. I came home rested and without a sunburn.

Driving was another matter. The beaches of Gulf Shores attract many drivers. I’m not sure where they were all headed but Mississippi seemed full. Everyone on the road was headed south. It was a crowded slow drive to the beach. Returning to the safety of north Louisiana was another matter. We drove home on Sunday.

These are my observations from that drive. From Fort Morgan, Alabama to Gibsland, Louisiana on the route of travel we counted 21 Dollar General stores. I am sure there are many more stores, but a good part of our drive was on the interstate. We bypassed many small towns that doubtless claimed one. Dollar General stores seem to be like Wisteria in my back yard, they are popping up everywhere. There was one place in Mississippi there were two of them within a half mile of each other. I’m wondering why we can’t get a Dollar General store in the Gibsland metroplex.

My ratio of 14:1 travel trailers still holds. I noted years ago that for each travel trailer you see in your direction of travel, you will see 14 headed in the opposite direction before you encounter the next travel trailer headed your way. The 14:1 ratio held up in the state of Alabama, even as we neared the Gulf Coast beaches.  The math fell apart the Love’s Travel stops and the one Buc-ee’s on the way to the beach. 

There are lots of churches between Fort Morgan, Alabama and Gibsland, Louisiana. They are in all shapes, sizes, and denominations. Most of them seemed to have one thing in common. Their parking lots were empty.

On any given Sunday in our part of the Bible belt, 80% of the population does something other than go to church. Maybe you need to sit with that number for a moment. Could the lack of church participation and the insanity of our culture share some inverse proportional relationship? It certainly makes one wonder.

Of the 21 Dollar General’s I could see, most of them were doing a brisk business on Sunday morning. What does Dollar General have that the church is missing?

I decided for my soul’s sanity I won’t plan any more vacations where I am driving on a Sunday morning. I need to be in church. I want to be in church. Perhaps you will join me there.


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