I’ve been going to church the past two weeks. It’s been 20 years since I’ve gone to a church of my own accord. I’ve thought about doing it many times, but never actually dragged myself out of the house on a Sunday.
The church is within walking distance of my house (even on frigid slick mornings). The church itself is a beautiful sweeping Luthern church. Austere by Catholic standards, but still ornate compared to the Lutheran churches in Northern Minnesota, which were all heavy wood and sharp angles, and intimidating like the mountains.
The sermons were about compassion and self-love, respectively. They both touched on the inherent trait of doubt in being human. They were beautiful. And during the second sunday I instantly teared up like a wave hitting the back of my eyes: uncontrollable and sudden. It reminded me of watching Mr. Rogers.
I believe that if most people had religious experiences like this: loving, vulnerable, and empathetic, they wouldn’t be so quick to throw it away. At this point, hearing that someone goes to church regularly is so rare in my world that it feels counter-culture. I’m typically met with the ubiquitous statement, “I’m spiritual, not religious”. Which I find as bland as it is broad, because I’m not sure where the distinction ends or begins.
Church (or spirituality, I guess) meant a lot to me when I was young and then it left my life very suddenly. That state lasted until several years ago when it couldn’t last any longer. It’s been slow going and gradual steps: a church service one step in a larger exploration.
As long as I’ve been alive, secularism has been in one direction – up and to the right. Can that continue indefinitely? Or did we actually lose something in that triumvirate of physical, mental, spiritual, and much of our current angst is a struggle to replace it with pale imitations (politics, work, identity, to name a few).
I don’t know. I’m just realizing I’ve missed it as a part of my life.