Friday, September 30, 2005

Shoe Shopping with Jesus

Well, not really. I do get into this weird shopping head when I am in a store, though. It is almost meditative... but not really. Jesus does come along for the ride, though. I have Handel's Messiah blaring in the car these days. Leonard Bernstein apparently horrified the music world back in the '50s when he decided to arrange the Messiah into two sections: a Christmas and an Easter. He even moved the Hallelujah chorus. Can you imagine that? It kind of makes sense to me.

Last year, during Advent, I listened the Christmas piece over and over again while knitting a prayer shawl for a friend. She had just lost her husband and I wanted to let her know that people were thinking of her. The prayer shawl is a cool ministry. You knit a three stitch sequence over and over (a nod to the Trinity, obviously) while praying for the recipient. Eventually, the movement of your hands becomes automatic, but the stitch design is just complicated enough that you have to keep paying attention. I knit my friend's out of blue mohair, which reminded me of my grandmother. Granny always had mohair shawls around her house. When she died, I got two of them. Advent with the Messiah and the prayer shawl was one of the most sacred times I have ever experienced.

Now, for some reason, I am listening to Easter... over and over again. So even as I am doing stupid chores, like shopping for shoes, I am brought back, again and again, to the miracle of His love and sacrifice. I am two years into this and still can't believe that God walked among us. Thank you, God.

Prayer Shawl Ministry

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Confession is good for the soul

I finally fessed up to Fr. P, my spiritual director, about the baptism situation with the Anglicans. I told him my problem- that it wasn't a trinitarian baptism at the time, but that it WAS the right baptism. That I was worried that I couldn't, legitimately, take communion at an Anglican church. And that I was afraid that someone was going to suggest I get rebaptised, which doesn't seem appropriate at all. I admit, through the whole conversation, I was on the verge of tears. For some reason this whole thing is bringing up all kinds of weird fears, especially since I am in the midst of trying to find a new church home. Which means I already feel plenty isolated and in left field. Well, desert-ish, I suppose. I feel like I am in the desert, and even though God is sending me plenty of Manna, I am still in that whiney-ass place of feeling so very sorry for myself.

And I feel a cold coming on, which just blows, since I am even more whiney-ass when I am sick.

So, sniffling through my conversation with Fr. P, he says there is this wonderful little escape hatch called a 'conditional' baptism. In other words, as the priest is doing the baptism, he actually says out loud words like "If you, Rachel, are not already baptised, then I baptise you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." An 'If-Then' arguement for God. I wonder what the Venn diagram of that looks like?

I feel much relieved. Off the hook. Like I can actually, at some point, walk into the Episcopal church of my choice and kneel down at the rail and take the body and blood and not worry that the priest would be upset if he knew that I am really some kind of spiritual fraud. Which, God knows, I am not.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A legal baptism?

Yesterday was the feast of St. Vincent de Paul. I bought a book a couple of weeks ago at the Catholic store which discusses the lives of the Saints. Right inside the front cover, it says that if you say the little prayer for the saint on their day, you earn a partial indulgence. I wonder how many partial indulgences make up a whole one?

Church shopping has been kind of interesting. I went to S. Stephens in Providence on Sunday. I frankly had no idea what to expect. I have been to the Triduum twice there... and both times sat in the church for, oh, I don't know, 9 or 10 hours over the course of three days. And no one ever really talked to me. Now, I realize that Holy week is a pretty intense time. Folks just aren't that chatty on Good Friday. But I was very pleasantly surprised on Sunday when 3 or 4 people came over to talk to me at coffee hour. (The coffee was good, too!)

People kept asking if I was visiting from out of town. Which brought up the fact that I was leaving Unitarian Universalism and was looking for a christian church. Like a goofball, I mentioned my baptism and the inevitable question was: Was it a trinitarian baptism? Choke. This is an issue because I have been taking communion at S. Stephens for 2 years and the mass booklet definately mentions that you are welcome to do so if you have been baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At my baptism, we never said anything about that. In fact, Steve didn't really say anything at all. I read the prayer of St. Francis and said my vows, but Jesus and the Holy Ghost weren't mentioned. And yet, a couple of days later, I felt so strongly that I was not only a christian, but a trinitarian, that I am sure that the baptism worked the way it was supposed to. So, since I am a baptised trinitarian, I have been taking communion right along, even though technically, I guess, I am not qualified to sit at His table... at least at an Anglo-Catholic church. Lord, what do you think? Is it time to come clean to the Rector over there?

I haven't even mentioned this to Fr. P because I was afraid that he would reconsider and say no and I can't imagine not taking communion at this point. It is one of the big reasons why I am leaving my UU church. And, by the same token, I wouldn't want to be rebaptised because I am so sure that the one that I had was the only one I need. It has had such a profound effect on my life it seems impossible that it wasn't all it was supposed to be.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The blog begins...again

Maybe it is ridiculous, but I suddenly felt like I wanted to talk about the weirdness. I haven't posted here in two years. I probably won't post regularly because I tend to like paper and pencil for a diary. And I am not going to be doing any print worthy essays. But what the hell. Here it is.

I have left the UU church after a lifetime of membership. I was actually born and raised a UU until I was around 7... at which point we moved and I became 'unchurched'. I didn't get 'churched' again until DH and I lived in Kansas City briefly. All Souls was the UU church there. There was this great minister named Judith Walker Riggs. She used to make me cry with her sermons. Especially the ones that talked about feeling alienated and alone. (I WAS alienated and alone... except for DH, Nguyen. Kansas City was, for me, an emotional wasteland.)

Fast forward to Bell Street Chapel and my baptism, and feeling at home for the first time in a church. And now, after almost 4 years of membership there... two as a card carrying Jesus Freak, I am leaving. Have left. Sat down with my DMin (dear Minister) and gave him the straight skinny that I couldn't be a christian in a non-christian church anymore.

I wanted to write a letter to the whole congregation and print it in the newsletter, but that was nixed by the board, so I just called people and told them. No one was surprised. Suprisingly. I guess my obsession with all things Nazorean was the dead giveaway. Lots of tears. I felt like my best friend had died and my dog ran away. I felt sick to my stomach for days. I was grief stricken really. And now I am not. I don't know why. In some ways, it doesn't make any sense, since I am still flapping in the religious breeze like a pair of granny drawers on a clothesline. I have no home and real leads yet. But somehow, I guess the fact that I have left Egypt (or West Broadway) is ok and I am heading towards the desert with faith. And friends. And a Priest who has helped me so much over the last couple of years and has been willing to walk this path with me even in the midst of his own health crisis. (God Bless you Fr. P.)

I got the monthly newsletter from Bell Street and it didn't have my letter.

After only a week or so, I was surprised to realize that Bell Street didn't feel like home anymore.