For the second time in two weeks, I have found myself in a church service on a Sunday morning. It’s hard to say how this all came about and certainly, I don’t have any idea where this new journey of sorts will lead me, but, this seeking, I guess you could call it, has been on my mind lately.
I have found an old church, a congregation that dates back to the 19th century and its current edifice has been around for nearly 100 years. As you might expect, it is a congregation that welcomes, affirms, and condones the LGBT community. For the month of February, the pastor’s sermons have been based on the Alice Walker novel, The Color Purple. So, long story short, it’s very different from the churches that raised me.
If my mind had a tendency to wander at church when I was 10 and 15 and 22, one shouldn’t be surprised to learn that my mind still wanders (and wonders) when I am at church. I love looking up at the high, majestically high, ceilings of the sanctuary. I think about the men who built this church. It’s the kind of thing I think about when I visit historied, grand, ornate, towering churches. I thought about it when I visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Church of St. Mary the Virgin on my recent trip to New York. I look at the ceilings and think how men risked, and probably sometimes lost, their lives, creating these works of art, how some probably took great pride in their efforts. This will be my legacy, they might have thought. For others, the work might have been only a job, maybe not even a well compensated one. I don’t know.
This morning, as I sat in my pew, occasionally looking up, I marvelled at the beauty of this church. I thought about how its current state was the sum contribution of many people with many stories. Some believers, some doubters, probably even some heretics. And then I looked down, looked around me, at the other people filling the pews. Maybe these parishioners are not all that different from the men who built this church all that time ago. Believers, doubters, heretics. Maybe, I went so far to imagine, we all have belief, doubt and heresy in varying amounts, in all of us.
When I started this blog, a couple of years ago, I really had no idea how much I was going to talk about religion and God and Christians. Several times, in emails and Facebook messages, people from my midwestern past have asked me what I believe about God and Jesus and Heaven and Hell. And I usually just avoid the question because the truth is, I don’t know what I believe.
For a long time, I thought that my questions or disbelief were a reason to keep me out of church. Why go if you don’t believe? But, somehow, in the last couple of months, I started wondering if maybe, those questions might have more value than I realize. And maybe a church is the best place to take one’s questions about God. Makes sense actually.
I don’t really know where any of this is leading. While a part of me feels that I should know what my intentions or goals are, the louder voice tells me to just be still and listen. So here I am, listening. And for what feels like the first time in a little while, looking up.