Monday, November 14, 2005
Is it possible that I haven't written about my latest church adventure because I don't want to jinx it?
Or perhaps I felt like I was getting boring, talking about the same thing for weeks on end!
In any case, there has been a new development in the church search process and it looks like I have found a place to go on Sundays. And yeah, the fickle finger of God may have had a little something to do with it. (Doesn't He always?)
Last week, I decided to bring the kids to visit a church I had tried weeks ago. It had come highly recommended by a friend from my UU church. Her good friend is a member there, and loves it. I spoke to the Rector, and yes, indeed, he seemed soulful and enthusiastic. The church is lovely. But their sunday school is only available at the 8:30 service, and since I am a half hour away, it seemed like an issue, especially as the kids get older. But I am willing to do whatever it takes, right? So I haul the kids out of bed at the crack of dawn and get them dressed and rush to leave the house so we can get there on time. And when we show up, the place is MOBBED. Not a seat available in the whole church. It turned out to be a baptism day and every relative in the world was crammed into the pews. When I realized it was going to be standing room only, I turned around and left.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had thought about visiting a church in Providence called Grace. It is an Episcopal parish with a huge, beautiful, 19th century church. I used to have a friend that lived in the tiny apartment on the top level of the parish hall. I had been there for a party once.
So, we went to the 10:00 mass at Grace. The kids sat in the pews for the service and wiggled a lot, but there where a couple of baptisms, which made me weepy and joyful, remembering my own. The Rector called me a couple of days later and invited me to check out the Sunday school.
Which we did, yesterday. Should I be surprised that it turned out I knew the Sunday School teacher? Or that one of Noah's classmates is a member there. (In a church in a different city than where we live!)
I didn't immediately get a feeling of 'Home'... whatever that means. But my time in the desert for the last few weeks has, perhaps, invited me to shift my perspective a bit. I realize that all the things I was looking for in a church were about MY happiness and satisfaction. Maybe I need to think more about finding a place where I can go on Sundays to worship my Beloved. Maybe the priest doesn't have to be the most compelling speaker in the world. Maybe the congregation doesn't have to be the holiest bunch I ever knew. Maybe it is enough to be in the pews, praying to be open and available to do God's work. Take communion. Worship with others. Staff the food pantry. Go to bible study. Teach my kids to know what it means to love God with all one's heart and soul and mind. Maybe that is what being at home in a church really is. When I left Bell Street, my biggest goal was to find a place where I can worship God with others.
While I was meditating last night, I had an image of thousands of years of church history, unfolding like a flash before my eyes. I saw dark monasteries and beautiful, candle-lit cathedrals. I saw peasants gathering in houses and golden reliquaries. I heard hymns and latin psalms. I saw brocade vestments and straw floors. I felt like I was standing on the edge of the stream of tradition and time and history, and if I take just one little step, I will join the thousands of years, the millions of others. All pouring from Peter, upon whom the church was built. Peter who died upside down. Peter, the goofball who argued with Jesus every step of the way. Peter who denied Him. Who loved him. Who fell asleep. Who reminds me to love Him even when I do it imperfectly.
Last night, Noah asked "Mom, can we go back to Grace next week?"
Yes, Noah. We can.