Today I went to church. It was a first, most likely a last, but definitely a worthy outing. Despite having an honours degree in Religious Studies, I've never considered myself religious (albeit deeply spiritual), or aligned with a certain faith (unless that faith is LOVE), or attended religious gatherings apart from being at weddings or funerals and random invitations to hear a choir. I love choirs. A whole lot.
So when I woke up this morning singing Kumbaya for the first time since I learned it over a campfire as a child (my parents sent me to bible camp in the hopes that I'd smarten up even though they themselves were not religious), I searched the song on YouTube so that I could have some music to since along with.
Then to my surprise, I found myself calling the church down the street to see if a choir would be singing today and if so, what time. The pastor told me the service and singing would begin in 15 minutes and that he hopes I can make it. So I got dressed, hopped on my bike, and off to church I went.
I was met with smiles and handshakes even before I entered the building, and once inside I sat at the very back nearest the door just in case I needed a quick escape. I'm not trying to knock church. It's just not for everyone. And while I wanted to be open to the experience, I didn't know what to expect during a Sunday service so I was taking a precautionary measure.
I did stay to the end although I was very tempted to leave to avoid communion altogether (I hadn't done this before and wasn't too eager to participate because the whole idea behind it creeps me out), but I figured "when in Rome".
During the service I made many notes in the program because wisdom is everywhere. You don't have to agree with certain principles or beliefs to be able to respect them and extract some wisdom for your own life. Everyone is a teacher, as is every experience on our path. So while 99% of what was said and sung about did not resonate with my own sense of truth, I tried to keep an open mind and find some sparkly bits of beauty while I sat in the pews.
No, I could not relate to the term "sinner" (it was only used once but it still made me wince and want to preach my own sermon on how inherently divine we all are regardless of anything we've ever done), but when the pastor quoted Matthew, "For where your treasure is, your heart will be there also.", I smiled. That is a favourite quote of mine.
I also loved when he spoke about "wasted days and wasted nights and wasted life" when we are not aligned with our true purpose, and that our external accumulations don't impress eternity and "what's the use of being the richest man in the cemetery?" That line made everyone laugh.
And then there was the synchronistic moment that I could not ignore. The pastor spoke of upcoming topics that will be explored this month and on May 25th the focus will be on suicide and on May 29th it will be on mental health issues like depression. He noted that while everyone may not be comfortable discussing these kinds of things, his goal is to help take away the stigma attached to having suicidal thoughts and offer resources and a biblical perspective on these struggles.
Beautiful timing, especially given the fact that I have recently emerged from that dark and painful state he's speaking of, and even went public with it in the hopes it would resonate with others who are also struggling right now. Read Ryan's story (miracle) that he shared with me in response to what I opened up about.
Another treat was seeing my elementary school music teacher, Mr. Kropf, leading the church choir. I said hello afterwards and he actually invited me to join the choir (as did a few people he introduced me to) and he also showed me where the cookies are.
I don't think I'm ready to make that kind of commitment anytime soon as it would require me to go to church more than once every three or four decades, but it's wonderful to know I could get my alto on whenever I feel so inclined (or when Kumbaya is the only song we'll be singing).
LOVE READING MY HEART?
Your financial high five means so much.
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