On Sunday August 27th we discussed the direction of the Conversation. As a relatively new member and because my time is winding down here, (I'm relocating in 3 months), I was reluctant to voice any thoughts. As ideas were contributed, someone mentioned that perhaps the time slot of our meetings prevented some people from attending because of obligations to their church and perhaps we should consider an adjustment. Someone said that what we do on Sunday morning is church, bringing a sudden sting of tears that surprised me: I thought I had resolved all matters relating to the "Church".
Having left my previous religious organization for several reasons but chief among them the promotion of intolerance and the invocation of God's wrath on those who dare to disagree with the narrow interpretation of the Bible being hurled from the pulpit, I felt dread at the mere mention of the word "Church".
I struggled to compose myself, embarrassed at the rivers that flowed down my cheeks, resisting the urge to flee. I listened as various voices talked about the meaning and purpose of church, battling with my ghosts of misogyny, racism, homophobia and suppression of my curious mind, all that I thought I left at the alter.
I struggle to get to the Conversation on Sunday because, backslider that I am, Sunday morning for me is: late Saturday nights and a lazy morning of tea and the paper, CBS Sunday Morning News, NPR; my self constructed "Church". The tears I shed on Sunday were a mixture of guilt at abandoning my roots, the invalidation of my opinions my some members of my family ("...well you know she don't go to church no more...") and the fear and trembling at the thought of the Conversation resembling anything at all what I was taught was "Church".
My roots are in the church, my family is in the church (4 brothers are ministers), my trust was in the church and much of my pain has come from the church. A strange potpourri of love and distrust, faith and disappointment, hope and anger; the "Church" continues to pull at me , call me, and challenge me to balance my love of God and Spirit with my rejection of "Church" as I know it. Yet even in that rejection is the longing for ritual, songs, the comfort and hope in the Word.
However the question of "Church" is addressed in the Conversation, it will call upon a extension of trust by myself, an opening of my arms to embrace and trust that the people who choose to forgo what others deem "Church" and come to the Conversation are peculiar enough to frame "Church" in terms that will embrace everyone that wanders into it's circle. As I write this I realize that I have been reticent on most Sunday mornings that I am at the Conversation: grappling with becoming fully part of a circle that has welcomed me with out qualifications or reservations, and has stimulated my mind and spirit as had been before, and on a Sunday morning. Please forgive and be patient with me for not yet fully engaging in what has been given to me by all of you: a space that allows me to simply be me.
p.s. forgive my grammar and comma slices also!