Revisting the Beginnings of Faith
It was at First Christian Church in Keokuk that I learned to sing by standing on the pew next to my father in my stocking feet and trying to match the pitch of his voice (an octave higher). I was baptized in the old building on Blondeau Street; the baptistery was located behind a curtain next to the organ chest which was filled with air by two Electrolux vacuum cleaners. The new building is a converted Walmart store with about 100,000 square feet, some of the same beautiful stained glass windows from the old sanctuary, and over 400 people in worship each weekend. The Sunday I visited, the Pastor (Bill) explained that the nursery needs a $20,000 upgrade because of so many babies coming to worship. I only saw 6-8 people I know, but was pleased to talk with all of them. It was heartening to see the church thriving in a town that continues to shrink in size.
I went to stand on the bluff above the hyroelectric plant where I stood as a boy to watch the thick black clouds of a thunderstorm as they approached down the river. I remembered how a gust of cool damp air announced dense rain; soon the rumbling thunder and flashes of lightning got my heart thumping, but I was more awed than frightened. I stood out in the soaking rain and shook involuntarily every time lightning struck nearby. Standing near the base of a huge steel tower carrying thick cables of freshly generated electricity, I reasoned that I was safe from being struck by a lightning bolt. I had the intoxicating sense of power, danger, and mystery as of the presence of God. After the storm I walked home - soaked to the bone.
I drove by the first house our family owned- which started the "tradition" in my own life of never buying a house that doesn't require major restoration.