Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reflections during Lent

When I was a kid, we sometimes went to the Unitarian church in Yakima. I don't remember it very much, but there was a church hall, and a sermon, and songs I think. It felt good to go and listen. I laugh now when I hear Garrison Keillor's caricature of Unitarians as vague and noncommittal. He's absolutely right, but I would say it another way. The Unitarians I know are highly committed: they are committed to questioning everything, committed to seeking. So that's me in a nutshell - one part of me.

I attended York School, a private Episcopal high school in Monterey. I needed and appreciated the rich connectedness at York: connections between people, the tapestries of ideas. At the time if you asked me whether I believed in God, I would say that I always get a glimpse of God through music. This is where I became a singer. We held occasional services in the chapel, but there were no efforts to convert the diverse student body to any religion. Now when I look back, I realize that this place was a perfect example of evangelism. The people there lived their lives committed to fairness and caring, and were proud to tell the world about it.

I kept on singing. Now in the Bay Area, I was drawn to the radical inclusiveness of Glide Church, and the raw energy of the music hit me in the gut. So I joined the Glide Ensemble, a hundred strong gospel choir. I was there for just half a year, which coincided with a difficult pregnancy. I continued to be a seeker, but my heart was closed up and tangled. One day something burst. We were singing this song, crying out: You are the source of my strength! You are the strength of my life! I lift my head in total praise to you. I cry again now feeling the words burst through me. Truly, faith is not something we work to achieve. It is a gift given to us.

So I arrive at Christ Lutheran Church, a hodgepodge of beliefs and ideas. It was easy to make friends here. But I wanted to know, do I belong here? I tried one of the study groups. That's where I learned to drop my stereotype of what it means to belong in a church. It does not mean you need to look or act a particular way. I learned that God made me like this, just as I am -- with my complicated brain, my untangling heart, and my confusion and doubt. I am welcome here.


Unknown said...

Beautifully expressed. We are all a sum of our experiences.

Linda D. said...

That was your mom commenting. I am not anonymous.

Ray said...

Much grist for a walk on the wild side! Check e-mail. Dad