Tonight I am sitting in front of my keyboard, waiting for it to spew forth, but it sits silent. I have some definite stuff in mind for future posts, but for tonight, the keyboard ain’t doing it’s thing. Will you sit a while with me?
I went to church on Sunday. Going to church has been an odyssey. The first time I went, I prayed to the True Jesus of Nazareth for courage. Yes, I did. Me, the one who had renounced Christianity because I had been taught that the Christian God was a god of hell-fire and damnation and even the old clapboard church doors might as well have had a sign emblazoned, “You’re not welcome here.” But when I went, I felt so bathed in love and acceptance that I was stunned. I cried throughout the whole service, impossible to hide my beet-red cauliflower nose and my snot.
I continued going as my body was willing and cooperative. I received nothing but kindness, and yet I found myself triggered right and left. One church morning, I was so triggered that when we held hands to say the Lord’s Prayer, I stood motionless for long minutes, not taking the hands outstretched toward me.
I struggled with the rituals, so effortless for everyone else — when to stand, when to sit, when to say what words. I had tried Christianity when I was an adolescent, fearing that awful hell-fire for being a lesbian. At both sincere efforts, there was a “honeymoon” phase where I was seduced by group-think, feeling for a short while that I was part of some greater connection. But each time, I soon became person non grata and the blemishes and hypocrisy appeared. So now I was waiting for “the other shoe to drop” again. It didn’t happen, but still I was afraid.
The little church I’ve found — an intentional Catholic community that is not a recognized parish — can’t really be considered a church at all in its typical meaning. In the first place, there is no church building. Services are held in the city council chambers of my local municipal building. We do not have a “regular” priest, but each week, a priest comes from a nearby parish to conduct services. But in every other sense, it is a “true” church. Magically, members arranged for me to attend RCIA classes at a recognized parish, and to provide me with transportation. My understanding is that my little “church” has been in existence for some 30 years here in my community. The members actively work to do good, giving their time and money to feed the homeless, and supporting one Nigerian immigrant family in a time of financial and health crisis. Fully accepting of GLBT people….
Yesterday, for the first time since I’ve attended, many months now, we had no priest. No one to give liturgy, consecrate the host, or interpret the Bible readings. At first, I was dismayed. By the end of the service, I was amazed. As a church, we consecrated the host as the early Christians must have done, and took Communion. We always have a period of sharing, and this one as special as ever. Whoever was moved to comment offered something heartfelt and thoughtful. Again, the tears came, but not as gushing or embarrassing as they were my first few times going to church.
At the end of service, the woman who might be called the “treasurer” announced that the Nigerian family had further need. She went on to explain that the family had been asked by someone in the city office (not a part of the church) if they weren’t getting help from the large Nigerian immigrant community in the DC area? They had responded, “You white people have been kinder than our own.” Continuing support will be provided.
I was nervous about going to my RCIA class tonight. Last week, the priest who conducts the classes was absent, and he was going to be absent this week as well. The “religious educator” leading the class was young, and it seemed to me that she could not handle the depth of questions on my mind. I really didn’t want to go. I had had very little sleep, I’d hit a “dip,” and I wanted to hide away on my sofa, protected by my dogs and my blanket. But I’d made a commitment, and when I make a commitment, I will keep it.
At 6:40pm, I heard the ‘beep’ of Tracy’s [pseudonym] car horn. I’d managed to eat some microwave macaroni and cheese, I’d showered, and I grabbed my notepad and pen, and the Bible I’d been given at the RCIA classes. When I scrambled into Tracy’s car, she handed me something. She said, “The church has given you a large print Bible.” She’d seen how I’d strained the previous week to read the RCIA version. Tracy said, “The church will reimburse me.” And I know the church will, but I knew she’d seen a need and had taken it upon herself to fulfill that need. Oh. My. Word. Held back the tears so as not to embarrass myself.
At the RCIA class, the “religious educator,” Barb [pseudonym], had printed up the hand-outs in large print for me. Her agenda was to teach us the meaning behind the Nicene Creed. I wanted to ask my persistent questions about the nature of good vs evil, but I didn’t want to distract from the lesson, nor pose a question too hard. But someone else asked the question hidden on my lips!! Barb couldn’t answer with words of finesse. I did grant myself the space to ask if we are meant to “turn the other cheek” or if we are supposed to call out evil when we see it. Barb couldn’t find the words to articulate an intellectual response (I’m accused of “thinking too much” by some). A few class-members offered their thoughts, which were mostly helpful.
But I’d already seen “good” in action — my transportation to the class, the large print Bible, and Barb’s sincere efforts to guide us. What more did I need? No one ever said life is easy. No one ever said we were called to be perfect. Being “good” is a choice we make daily, and second by second. Psychopaths make the opposite choice, minute by minute, day by day. It ain’t always easy, with the hurt we carry when we’ve been trashed by psychopathic parents, but it is doable. One step in front of the other, and baby, let your little light shine. You are here for a reason, and you are unique, and you have many gifts to share. Do not, do not not not, give up. Be a feather and tread easy on yourself. You are making a difference, whether you know it or not.
What a wonderful world it would be….
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