It’s been a long time since I have been in a church. So long I can’t actually remember. And then I attended two funerals in two weeks. Both celebrated with masses at a Catholic church.
I have never been comfortable at a Catholic mass. All the stand up, sit down, kneel, confuse me. The incense gives me a headache. Christ, in agony, staring down from a cross. Ugh. The genuflecting, bowing and crossing yourself is too complicated for me. And ever since I was little and watched a priest do the ceremony to prepare communion, I always thought it was a magic show and he would pull a rabbit out of the chalice. I still hope for it.
And yet as soon as I sat in this church, I had the same feeling I always do - a feeling of deep peace. Sanctuary. Surrounded by the Spirit, whatever that might be. It is a feeling I can easily achieve in almost any empty church/synagogue, at an empty beach or out in the deep solitude of a forest. Unfortunately, I don’t get as many opportunities to frequent these places as I used to.
When I belonged to a church, I would often go and just sit in the sanctuary alone. That was before the interim pastor strangely accused me of being in love/obsessed with her and the elders, without ever even speaking to me, let me know I was no longer welcome there. Even just to sit alone in the church on a weekday.
And then last year’s knee surgery took away my usual hikes into the wilderness. Grrr.
Purposely arriving early, I sat in this church waiting for the mourners to file in and the mass to start, and was reminded how much I have been missing this feeling. Not the attending church. No, I think my spirituality and beliefs have evolved way past that. What I am missing are those special places of solitude where I find that feeling, that peaceful sigh of the soul.
It has been a grueling couple of years both physically and emotionally for me. The healing has been hard work, but very productive. I have reached a level of emotional calm that I didn’t think possible. Now I want to spend time listening to my inner heart. To let my soul breathe in and out. To find out what’s next. To experience that missing peace.
So I am writing this as a reminder to myself. To seek out more quiet, spiritual places. There must be other spaces that have that sacred sense of wonder and otherworldlyness. Any places that do it for you?
As a follow up, I just found out that the interim pastor who went on to have her own church, has been recently let go from that church. Seems she creates problems wherever she goes.