...going to church.
It doesn't happen very often, but every once in a while - especially this time of year - I get a little nostalgic for it. I always liked how lovely churches look all done up for Christmas, and the songs were always so fun to sing at this time of year.
I grew up very involved in our United Church (combined Methodist and Congregationalist). While I believe I've posted before that I didn't believe in God until I was five or six, once I decided I did believe I went whole hog, so to speak. I was in all the pageants, had near perfect attendance for Sunday School multiple years running, was in the junior choir though I couldn't sing, and was the go-to babysitter for pretty much the entire congregation. In my teen years, I was highly involved in something we called "Caraway Street": a kind of Sesame Street for the church. It was a large set, replete with both human and puppet characters. We had a high proportion of dramatically gifted teens in our church for some reason, and because of this it was highly popular.
I miss those good ol' days, I suppose. I had a lot of fun then. But as soon as I went off to college, I stopped going to church. I'd still make it for the Christmas Eve service when I came back, but once Dad died even those fell by the wayside. Ironically, my father's death had nothing to do with my abandoning church. By the time he died, I had long given it up and never considered going back.
I can't remember the last time I went to church. I think it was for my Grandmother's funeral. And I can remember sitting there thinking as the pastor read the sermon that I could see why people would flock to such a place, to draw any comfort they could from the words he spoke. Words I found conciliatory and hollow.
I think while I have this romantic idea (born of my younger years) of community and togetherness, the reality is that there is just as much backstabbing, gossip, and politics in a church as there is any place people get together. Because, inevitably, someone wants to be in charge, and someone else is not happy with that, and someone else is jealous of yet another person and would like nothing better than for them to get a bit of a comeuppance.
No.... I'm not jaded. Not at all.
So, while I sometimes miss going to church, I guess my point is that I stopped finding any kind of spiritual presence there a very long time ago. If I want to feel the presence of the Deity (more often of late, the one I call The Lady), I go outside and take a walk and marvel in the beauty all around me.
I've always maintained that there is more than one path for spiritual seekers and so long as it fills a need for the individual person, it doesn't much matter what the actual form takes. I know there are a great many out there who find solace and peace and Deity in their churches or religious organizations. I guess for me, I find it elsewhere. It is a solitary thing for me. I find it in nature, in meditation, in dance. I don't look without to find Deity, I look within.
Although, I still love a way a church looks decorated for Christmas.
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