Pastor George MacDonald (1824-1905) is one of the few preachers whose sermons I can stomach right now, in the form of Robert Falconer this week, a largely autobiographical novel, complete with full Scots brogue.
Sundays now I don’t even attempt to rally anyone to go with me to church service, now that I realize I don’t want to go either. I thought it was just avoidance of the rush and irritable drive there that left us less than spiritually prepared for worship. We almost got there last night for the Christmas Eve service, though. Funny that it was the child most resistant to participation in organized or home religious traditions that first suggested we attend the service.
Which is very unfair to the community we’ve been part of, as they are probably just ordinary decent people, with a smattering of amazing, deep, shining people. I don’t really know much about them, because going to church, the getting ready, in the car, and all the way there without too much hassle took so much energy that we didn’t get very involved beyond that. The church we were going to was made up of predominantly introverts, who though less inclined to spout insincere Christianese, also tend to keep to themselves quite a bit and so don’t mingle all that well, without an excuse, such as having small children, being involved in organizing and leadership, or participating in one of the many small group studies or other regular events. So no one really noticed us when we drifted away. I bowed out of further commitment to teaching Sunday school (having enjoyed that, but knowing I was likely to teach something unorthodox, and being too much in flux with no one to talk to about that)
And there’s a feeling of betrayal. Not exactly disillusionment–my parents made sure we didn’t have too many illusions about organized religion; I even had to ask them not to share so much about the politics and intrigue they saw, so I could gather my own first impressions, and maybe they could include some good ones.
Then we did the same to our kids–shared everything we saw and thought–no illusions there, either. They all have appreciated that, and it hasn’t, I don’t think, made them think any less of seeking a true spiritual path. Which doesn’t seem so urgent when you don’t believe most everyone, including yourself, is lost and damned and we with blood on out hands if we don’t try to warm them.
I’m waiting to want that community again. Not very loyal, am I? No “Till death do us part.” And even though I like to hear a smart, thought-provoking message, which the pastor or our erstwhile congregation always does—to be taught being a nice break in my week of teaching others—I haven’t darkened the door for months. Makes me sad that I don’t really want to. Yet I hope that some day I do.
My husband and I went to the movie, “Paterson” last night at the local independent theater–delightful movie, reminding me to just start getting words on the page and see where it takes me. At the lights came up and we gathered out coats and turned to leave, we discovered that a couple from, or sort of from, that congregation, was seated right behind us. They are people on my mind as folks I wanted to make more effort to get to know better. I confessed that I’d looked at my updated contact list regretfully the day before, seeing that I’d misplaced whatever receipt I’d jotted it down her number on before recording it last time we’d run into them at the same theater. They invited us for a bite of gelatto, and I got a few words in and out. Me speaking to the woman, and my husband speaking to the man, per tradition, though I didn’t grow up with it. He’s a writer too, which I’d known from his time as pastor at a different church–plumber turned Psalm teacher and poet, now happily employed at a workshop in the local men’s shelter. I met his wife years later, but only in passing, though seeing enough in common and to attract that I’d like to connect–a really alive, energetic and smart person, runs, or ran, a catering business, I think. I’d have to get out with her away from my very talkative husband, for sure. When trying to have a part of that conversation, I can’t get much out, even questions that lead somewhere.
We talked a bit about church, made me want to pop in again. The pastor was on sabbatical, and as much appreciated he is, everyone was having a great time running the services in his absence. No professionals in the pulpit or music team, but all kinds contributing. Maybe if I keep expectations low, and refuse to leave right after the service, even if I have to walk home. My husband, dear as he is to me, doesn’t get that the after visiting is at least as important as the service.
I’d like to find some writers there, that’s what. I hear there are some, besides the pastor, I mean. Got the link to his blog while he & family are walking El Camino of the pilgrims in Europe.