Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sliding into home, churchwise

I have been unchurched for almost 30 years. When I got divorced in the mid-80s, the church I'd attended for 15 years - the one where I'd served as a liturgical musician and youth retreat leader - didn't know what to do with me. Or maybe I didn't know what to do with it. When I moved from a small town in Oregon to a large suburb in Washington, I didn't seek a new church in my denomination or in any other. And the longer I stayed away, the easier it became. I remembered all the things about the church's doctrine that I didn't believe. There was some relief to my nonparticipation as I moved on with my life.

In recent travels I've been reminded of my separateness from a religious community. Three years ago, in Italy, I visited Assisi and learned about Francis, the bad boy who renounced his family's wealth and chose instead to live simply and walk in the footsteps of Christ. That would be love and service, I thought. I visited the Vatican and saw a lot of gold and thought about how many people that gold could feed. I visited art museums and felt grateful for the role the Catholic Church played in supporting Renaissance artists. On that trip I was able to clarify my convictions about the role of spirit and of religion and to release old guilts and resentments.

Last month I visited a village in Kenya where the people sacrificed a goat we had bought from them, drank its blood, and shared the meat with us. I noted the similarity to sacred rituals in churches and wondered whether those rituals happened first in villages or in churches. I'm pretty sure it was in villages, to celebrate love and community.

When I got home from Africa I was invited by a friend to attend a church service in a denomination I'd never known much about. I explored the website and decided to give it a try. From the moment I walked in the door I was comfortable. The service was a celebration of life and community, of love and service. I believed every word spoken during the service. I went back two more times. I still felt comfortable. People welcomed me and shared their own experiences. I have decided to attend this church.

It's been a journey traveling around the bases. I don't regret a single step. But I am glad to feel like I'm sliding into home.


18 comments:

John Souva Jr said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Olga said...

Some times I envy those who are in no doubt that their religion holds the answers. I have never been able to be that convinced. I am one of those whose prayers are addressed to "whom it may concern."

DJan said...

I've tried to find a place that appeals to me here in Bellingham. The Unitarian Church came close, but I don't feel much need to attend any organized gathering just yet. I'm glad for you, Linda. It means a lot to have a home in a community of like-minded people. :-)

Chris Loehmer Kincaid said...

I'm glad that you have found a church where you feel comfortable. That sense of community is so important to growing your faith.

I attend my church because of that sense of community - the members are like family. Unfortunately the church leadership does little for growing my faith. Sometimes it's tough - the whole church-thing.

Friko said...

I left my own denomination behind a long time ago. I don’t feel tempted by any other; in fact, organised religion and its adherents puts me off.

I trundle around, following what is known as a ‘good Christian’ lifestyle and hope for the best, i.e. that I don’t offend anyone but also don’t become enmeshed in fundamentalist intolerance.

The journey is all.

rosaria williams said...

Ah, you mirror what so many of us have gone through. I'm still leery of any organized religion, each praising its own precepts and putting down the other. I believe in a spiritual and moral life, but not in a devotional club.

anita mann said...

I normally enjoy your posts, just as I did today. I am a bit troubled though why you deleted the comment from the man this morning. I saw what he said and did not find it the least bit distasteful. After reading the other comments from today and after seeing that you removed his comment, I have to contemplate who is really displaying the religious intolerance and small-mindedness here. Now I question if you will be eliminating my comment too (I hope you are above that). At the very least, I believe you owe that man and your other readers an explanation.

Linda Myers said...

Anita has asked me to explain my thoughts about deleting the first comment.

The commenter is a Christian and what I read in his comment was that it doesn't matter what denomination a person is as long as they are a Christian, and that for the truth they should go to the Word of God. That is his conviction and I respect it. He is also a photographer. I checked out his blog and found it to be a beautiful, peaceful place that reflects his faith. You can find him at
http://connectedtothevinephotography.blogspot.com

In my post, I was describing my own search and that I believe I have found a spiritual community in which I am comfortable. I was making no effort to persuade others to check out the church or to believe what I believe.

I deliberately did not specify the church that I have found. Though its precepts are based on love and service, I do not think it would be classified as a Christian denomination. It draws from many sources.

I certainly hope I am not displaying religious intolerance and small mindedness. The church I have found has one of the most open-minded, nonjudgmental philosophies I have ever seen. That is why I like it.





anita mann said...

Thank you Linda for being up-front and responding. I continue to feel that you might have rushed to judgment regarding his comment in that you fundamentally buried a conviction apparently different than yours.

Linda Myers said...

Thanks for sharing, Anita.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so glad you have found a place to worship that you are comfortable with. I have faith, just haven't found a pigeon hole to fit in. I am still looking.

John Souva Jr said...

Well I feel a bit odd commenting again especially since you removed my first endeavor. My initial impression earlier today was one of intellectual dishonesty coming from you. But after reading some of the other comments today (especially yours), I thought I should try and clear the air. When I read your post early this morning, I immediately identified with you and your journey. I have been on one much of my own life, starting with a forced feeding from one of the major so-called "Christian" denominations coming from southern Europe. From there I traveled a road with major bumps and numerous zigs and zags. When I said "denomination doesn’t matter", I sincerely meant what I said. Personally I have little use for manmade rules and laws as they relate to the spiritual realm (I belong to no organized church or religion). That being said, I make no apologies to you or anyone else for my belief in Jesus Christ and his Word. If you or others think that Faith in Christ is a definition for "religion", then fine, to me it's a matter of semantics and not worth the disagreement. Anyway, I certainly meant no insult or offense to you or anyone else, I do my very best to be tolerant of others and their views and to live as a true man of God (sometimes not easy). While I am certain we would disagree on many subjects, I would not ever knowingly throw bigoted/dogmatic and discriminatory insults your way (I have no use for such language). I would much rather go through life as friends rather than on opposite sides of an idea. I truly wish you the very best on your own spiritual journey!

By the way Linda, earlier today when I had no plans of writing you again here in this environment, I sent you a message via Facebook. I am not sure where it ended up, a note from Facebook told me that you would get my message, just not in your "inbox". I have no idea what that means but I am hoping you see it (it was a friendly message).

Linda Myers said...

No apologies needed, John. We're all on our own journeys. I am so glad you found a faith that fits.

I have sent you a Friend request on Facebook, as I didn't get your message.

Linda Reeder said...

I think it's interesting how many of us have been on a faith journey. You have apparently found a home. I am happy for you.
I am not looking for one. I just have no need any more.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I grew up Catholic and was very involved in church activities, even played the organ for three different choirs and for early morning daily high mass. I attended a Jesuit university and took a required philosophy course in which the final exam was to write an essay: Prove the existence of God. Faith, of course, is not based on proof, and it was that course that began my setting out on my own. I haven't looked for a new faith community. but at the same time I am glad that you have found one where you are comfortable. As I look back, the rites and activities of the large churches of my youth lacked the immediacy of old-time rituals that really do build community.

Rian said...

Linda, just a brief comment. I don't think it's possible or necessary for everyone to believe the same. In my own spiritual journey, I found these words and they confirmed what I believe... "What can we ever know of other people's souls...of their temptations,their opportunities,their struggles? One soul in the whole of creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him." This is from CS Lewis' Mere Christianity. And it supports what I believe... that religion or spirituality is very personal... one on One.

Perpetua said...

This is a fascinating post and comment conversation, Linda. I too am happy that your life's journey has brought you to a church community where you feel so at home.

I made a similar journey into the Anglican church many years ago and have never regretted it. Though there are times when I am immensely frustrated by some of its inner workings, I have never lost that feeling of being fundamentally at home there.

Deb Shucka said...

I loved reading this, Linda. In part because my own journey has been a bumpy one. I'll look forward to hearing all the details in October. :-)