The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
Finding the sacred in everyday life
For when you need to know beauty is near…
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Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.
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By simplyfaithful
July 21, 2013 11:15 a.m.

Even the drive to Meramec Caverns in the Ozarks was beautiful.
The main route was lined with trees that stretched over like canopy after green-leafed canopy.
Light danced on a tiny river to the left, the one that looked too small and sleepy to have cut through rock and soil and created a whole new world beneath the ground.
The boys unfolded themselves and poured out of the van, anxious for adventure.
Stay with me at all times, our tour guide told us. Ill be turning lights on and off as we go, and I dont want people left in the dark.
And so we began the easy, less intimidating part of the tour.
Larger rooms, lots of light. A bit of running water. A marker to show where Lassie had been filmed. A silhouette of outlaw Jesse James and one of his sidekicks.
Then, shorter ceilings. Less light. More guide-yourself-by-using-the-handrails, and finally a cul de sac where the group pooled to hear the guide.
The lights came on, and we were surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites.
We saw the occasional column where the two had met and melded their colors of rust and orange and dripping beige.
I drew in a quick breath, and I stopped listening to the tour guide.
This is what wed been walking through in the dark.
These designs, hand painted by a loving and creative God, were inches away from the handrail.
They were just unseen until the tour guide flipped on the light.
Now remember the water in here is no more than 18 inches at its deepest point, the tour guide said, but when we round this corner it will look much deeper because of the reflection.
It is just an optical illusion, so dont be afraid.
The tour guide was right.
I could have sworn there was a deep canyon beneath the calm waters on the other side of the rail.
Apparently Benjamin thought so, too, because he moved his 5-year-old self away from the edge and to the middle of the walkway until the light shifted. Then he saw the truth, that the water he had been so afraid of would have barely covered his ankles.
And his mama got a glimpse of the truth, too.
Sometimes beauty and blessings and even safety are closer than I think.

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