I didn’t go to church Sunday, but you might say I spent a little time Sunday morning closer to God than anyone in this whole county, especially if heaven is indeed located high above the clouds.

 I do go to church, something I have done since I was young and had no choice in the matter. But I have spent many Sunday mornings out in the woods somewhere or off on the river, where I feel closer to God than anywhere else I have ever been.


I didn’t go to church Sunday, but you might say I spent a little time Sunday morning closer to God than anyone in this whole county, especially if heaven is indeed located high above the clouds.
 I do go to church, something I have done since I was young and had no choice in the matter. But I have spent many Sunday mornings out in the woods somewhere or off on the river, where I feel closer to God than anywhere else I have ever been.
When you are an outdoorsman, it is that way. I don’t like to be around a lot of people, I like being outdoors alone as often as possible. But I am not at all anti-social.
 In the last few years I have spent a great deal of time speaking to folks in churches around the Ozarks, and I enjoy that.  I have the same weakness, I suppose, as many of the old timers I grew up around, in the pool hall back in my hometown. I do a lot better at talking than listening.
But I do listen to what God has to tell me, and I have learned He doesn’t tell us all the same things.  That’s because men are different, and I have been told often that I am.. uh… different.  
I felt a little different on Sunday morning and decided I would stay home. Gloria Jean went to church as she often does, in her car, perhaps thinking I would show up later as I often do, in my old pickup. 
Instead, I reclined on the couch and decided to stay there where it was decidedly more comfortable than a church pew.  I turned on TV thinking I would find some TV preacher to argue with, and Bonanza was on.
I suppose if you have read this column often you know I hate TV. 
I truly believe that if there is a devil somewhere with a tail and horns, his most valuable tool is a television set. 
He’d rather take anything out of modern society than that box in the living room.  So I don’t watch anything modern.
 I didn’t see one minute of the Olympics and I can guarantee you I won’t see one minute of either of the political conventions.  I have that wicked box in my house to watch football and baseball on occasion, the news and weather, Bonanza, Gunsmoke and old Westerns, and shows about nature and wildlife – period. Sunday morning, it was either an episode of Bonanza I haven’t seen or one I can’t remember.  The older I get, the better the old westerns get, because I have forgotten I saw them before.
To watch Bonanza, Nature and the St. Louis Cardinals, I have to pay a company to put a dish-shaped thing on the roof, and it hasn’t been working lately, at least for some of the old channels. 
I called them and they sent me a thing-a-ma-jig to replace an old one, attached to the whatcha-ma-call-it on the roof.  Sunday morning, just after Little Joe had been shot in the leg, the TV quit working. 
Despite the fact I didn’t feel good, I climbed up on the roof via a somewhat shaky ladder and replaced the thing-a-ma-jig. 
I congratulated myself on being so nimble and athletic at this late stage in my life, that I could still climb up there and do such a thing, but the ladder which enabled me to get on the roof had tilted a little, and the wisdom of my years told me it wasn’t stable enough to use in getting down without considerable risk, even in my top-notch grizzled old veteran outdoorsman condition. 
My rooftop, on the highest ridge in this whole region, is a very high rooftop, shaded by big oaks. 
It is really beautiful from up there, and it is a remarkable way to look at oak trees I have seen so often from the bottom. 
I saw an oriole and a tanager, and one little humming bird sat on a limb not 10 feet away, wondering what I was. 
A blue jay screamed at me, a cardinal sang to me and a fox squirrel in a hickory out in the lawn ate breakfast while I watched.
God and I had a good talk, but after awhile you get tired of sitting on the peak of a roof with asphalt shingles beneath you. The church pew would have been more comfortable!  After a half hour or so I took out my pocket phone and called Gloria Jean, who was embarrassed by her phone going off during the pastor’s sermon, and it did little good because she wouldn’t answer. 
I knew his sermon would go on past noon, and then Gloria Jean would stand around talking to everyone, so I figured I wasn’t going to see what happened to Hoss and Little Joe, and I reckoned I might even miss the first inning or so of the ballgame.
To end this story, Gloria Jean came home eventually, saw me sitting on the roof as she drove up the gravel driveway and was convinced I had decided to commit suicide by jumping off. 
Therefore, she was in no hurry to interrupt anything, and it took awhile to get the ladder straightened out. 
When I finally got down, the TV wouldn’t pick up any channel with the new device, so I got back up there and re-installed the old one and now it works perfect. 
My knees and elbows are skinned up just a little by the effort to get up on and down off of an asphalt roof from a shaky ladder, and Gloria is a little peeved about the phone going off in church. But I have told her before to leave it in her car during church … maybe now she will listen!
This column should explain things to the congregation, but she says there aren’t many of them that read my column, so it may not help much.
You might ought to try sitting on your roof sometime on Sunday morning if you live way out in the country. Take a cushion. 
It is still and peaceful and you see things from a different point of view. I probably won’t do it again next Sunday, but I don’t know that I will go to church next Sunday either. 
I may go down to the river by myself and look at things from a really low spot, now that I have looked at things from so high up.  I may talk to God from there a little, but the river is a great place to just be quiet and listen, and the smallmouth really get turned on by this cooling weather.
Next Monday I intend to go dove hunting, and I am going on a float trip this week, so those of you who are disappointed that I have not passed on any really exciting hunting or fishing stories lately might look forward to next week’s column, which ought to really be good. 
This week’s column might have been a little more exciting if I had fallen off the roof, but sometimes even us outdoor writers just have a hum-drum week.
You can find lots of outdoor excitement in my upcoming fall issue of the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor magazine. 
To find out how you can get your copy, just write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or call my executive secretary, Ms. Wiggins, at 417 777 5227.   My e-mail address is lightninridge@alltel.net.