When I moved to the outskirts of my new, much-smaller city last spring, I was looking forward to a few things happening:
- spending much less time in my car – it takes me twenty minutes, tops, to get from my house to the exact opposite end of town and I LOVE IT. In fact, I go days without even leaving my neighbourhood;
- spending more time with family – my parents live in our basement suite, so I see them every day, and a whole pile of more family is so close that we show up for each other when it counts, and also have family dinners;
- I would volunteer for hospice – I set this up even before we moved and it has become my favourite way to spend 8 or so hours each week as I cook for patients and families, and ease the transition of letting a loved one go for everyone who walks through the door;
- I would be outside more simply because there was time to do so, and;
- I would find a church to attend
Now, I have never really been someone who attends church. I’ve attended, sure, and to my surprise, I loved it every single time. I always get a message I need to hear, and I’ve so enjoyed the community I found there. I have surely had the bottom fall out of my life, and each time, what I really longed for was a community to embrace me. Friends were like family, but I was missing out on the brigade of casseroles and the counsel of a leader in a sanctuary I trusted.
I don’t buy into a lot of heavy-handed Religious Stuff, so finding the right “fit” has been important; not breezy and just “spiritual,” and a tiny bit more formal. I think the bible is an interesting story and I like the discussion it encourages. It stretches me to turn off my literal, linear mind and embrace what could have happened.
And so I searched. I went to several churches and failed to find the perfect fit, and then I walked into a small United Church this past weekend and came home shouting to everyone who would listen that I had “found my church!”
Here’s what I loved about it:
We were greeted warmly and genuinely at the door. Not with desperation that I would join, permanently, but warmth. I felt immediately and immeasurably At Home.
A part of the proceedings was about sharing our joys. As I listened, too shy to speak out, just yet, I noticed that my eyes were filled with tears as I felt joy for the people around me. It lifted me up. I believe that our lives are about this connection, and as I consistently decrease my online connections for actual ones, this resonated deeply.
Following the sharing of joys, we shared our concerns. Again, I was quiet, preferring to share mine silently, but our concerns, too, became something for us all to carry. I am not alone in my sorrow for what is happening around me.
Through the sermon, I learned a little about how can show up as divinity for one another and I realized that my work is exactly that; I listen to clients, I meet them wherever they happen to be, and say a version of, “You are perfect. You make perfect sense. You are loved and you are lovable, even if you don’t feel it right now.” God speaks through us.
And finally, I was prompted, once again, to visit my own daily spiritual practice to include some of the rituals I enjoyed on the weekend.
I never, ever thought I would say this, but I am counting the days until I can go back to that lovely space.
Wherever you sit on the religion fence (and I know there is plenty of reason to have a stink-ass stance about the whole thing), I still wish you community, wherever you may find it. I still wish you peace. I wish that you would keep having the conversations about who you are and how alike to your neighbour (rather than different) you are. It is surely what is going to keep all of us alight right now.