I’m not a beer drinker.

Give me a glass of dry red or a crisp white wine. Pour out hard cider into a frosted mug. Shake a gin martini. Dry. Straight up. Beer, that’s not my thing.

I’ve tried. Oh yes, I’ve tried.

I’ve winced and cringed my way through half of a bottle or glass, tasting of sour mash. I’ve sipped from a mug offered to me by my husband.

No, thank you. I’m fine. I’ll have water with my pizza.

Imagine my surprise to end up choosing a Pittsburg brewery to celebrate the completion of an intense week of ministry training and certification this summer.

I spent a week solo in a crowd of 320, developing skills, learning techniques, and practicing processes. Days were full. Nights exhausting. My husband joined me for the last two days. This gave him time to explore the city while I finished up training and gave us a little bit of time together before traveling home and re-entering our busy, full life.
His Facebook status that Friday read, 9 Pittsburgh breweries, one afternoon to tour them all… (He had to settle for fewer than nine.)

I sat in class while he walked the city, sampling different brews and ales and eating delicious food. Reconnecting later that evening, his description of lunch, a German Kielbasa Reuben paired with a beer, intrigued me.

Saturday, I finished the course in the morning, and we had an hour or two free before the four- hour drive home.

What do you want to do? Where should we go to celebrate?

Inner clock ticking, I tried to decide what to do to for a closing experience in the city. A denouement. I chose lunch at the Penn Brewery based on the previous day’s glowing report.

We were greeted by a fundraising event for a man battling leukemia. This hit close to home, as one of our dearest friends is in this very fight. We contributed in his honor and entered the restaurant.

Looking over the menu, breathing in the atmosphere, basking in the relief of having completed a goal, enjoying time alone with my man, I decided to order a beer. I needed something to help me slow down and be present in the moment.

Beer did that for me. It invited me to slow down.

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Not in the obvious, drink too much and get tired way, but in the less-obvious take time to savor
and be way. That’s what I did.

I took time. I slowed down. I was present.

I ordered a steak sandwich and fries to go with my beer. I ate and drank slowly.

I enjoyed the moment that I was in, processing what had just happened, holding loosely what was to come once I re-entered my life, already in progress.

And it was good. And it was slow. And it was beer.

Julie McClaynbsp
Julie McClay lives in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley with her high school sweetheart (and husband of 22 years) and 5 of their 8 children. She is learning that while it can be painful to face the past honestly while living in the moment and looking towards the future, it can be healing and lead to eh the hope of a brighter future. She digs through these thoughts and feelings here.