lately, i have been talking a lot, in therapy, and with h, about the possibility of going to church again. and i have been intensely torn about the idea. on one hand, the natural rhythm of my life has always been found in seasons like advent and lent, and my soul has ached for the spiritual grounding of ritual and reverence again. and community. how i’ve missed belonging to a community that loves and serves one another. on the other hand, however, it was the church that nearly broke me, that sent me to a psychiatric hospital, as i felt my soul split down the middle when i came out.
…reconciliation and healing have not yet come. and so i’ve stayed away. for nearly five years.
it has been my hope (and plan, i suppose) to lick my wounds, rise up more whole, and maybe find my way back to some sort of faith. it has been my reality that, of course, i need to find my way back in order to be more whole. it’s the whole “you need to trust to learn to trust” sort of
bullshit truth. dip your toe in the water, my therapist has encouraged. i’ll think about it, i’ve said. week after week, i’ve said it. i’ll think about it.
so. easter. the mother of christian holidays, a day of belief and relief that God is bigger than death.
yesterday morning, h asked me if i wanted to visit an affirming/diverse/kid-friendly episcopal church we’ve been considering for nearly a year. on easter? i asked. maybe next week, i said. she asked why not easter. i waxed ineloquent about having missed the dance of lent, and how weird it would be to simply show up at the grand finale. she saw right through me, and said, well maybe it’s the perfect day to show up again. resurrection. new life, new beginnings, and all that. shit. she was right. i could keep saying “maybe next week” every week, or i could simply go.
and so it came to pass that we put some bloomers and a new dress on a napping jude, and attended an evening easter service. after waking up, j was in a stellar mood, and so very well behaved during the service. when she became distractingly squirmy, we took her to play in the children’s corner of the sanctuary. that’s right folks: this church likes you to keep your noisy kids in the service. and so i got to play with duplos AND participate in the eucharist.
wherever you are in your journey, you are welcome at this table, said the priest as he blessed the bread and wine. i don’t know what i believe to be true about God anymore; i only know the need to participate in the rhythm of the church. and so i carried jude on my hip, walked to the altar, and took my place in a semi-circle of the kneeling and standing faithful. a girl with blond hair and glasses knelt next to me, and tickled jude’s bare feet. jude smiled at her, and then–very uncharacteristically–leaned down to kiss the girl on the mouth. the girl–her name is laura, as i gathered from her sharpie-scrawled name tag–then kissed jude’s hand, and returned to prayer. soon, the priest came and offered me the elements, and blessed jude with the sign of the cross over her forehead. she grabbed his hand silently, and brought it to her cheek, at which point she nestled into it happily. blessing, indeed.
tears sat on my eyelids a lot during that service. it wasn’t that the homily was lifechanging (though it was thoughtful and good), or that epiphany swelled in my heart; i simply felt a little more home in my spiritual skin than i have in a long time. it didn’t hurt that the congregants were all genuinely friendly to all three of us. there was none of that awkward, “let’s greet the new people” awfulness. it was more like meeting friends of your friends at a party. how rare.
as for the overwhelm of easter itself? it is enough to celebrate my own resurrection. everything else will come in time. amen.
…and happy easter.