I have been struggling with my religious beliefs since February. I am still currently on sabbatical from the Catholic church. I am a spiritual being, but haven't been able to practice organized religion since listening to a sermon where I felt unwelcome because I am divorced.* The Universe gives us what we need though, when we need it.
My city has a talented community of artisans. Supporting the arts and our artisans, on the first Friday of each month, downtown Bloomington hosts a Gallery Walk. Nine galleries, all within walking distance of one another, offer appetizers and beverages of some type, and stay open from 5-8 pm. I haven't attended as frequently as I'd like, but this past Friday, one of my artist friends had a painting that would be on display. I made plans to be at the gallery displaying her work when I knew she would also be there. We snacked and admired all the paintings, pottery, and sculptures before heading to another one of our favorite galleries. As we walked down the sidewalk, I saw a familiar lady across the street holding open a door, and beckoning us to enter her building. I yelled hello across to her, but said we were on our way to a gallery. My friend started across the street and said, 'Come on, let's go in! It's beautiful there. I've been inside for watercolor society meetings." I followed, then introduced her to my former mother-in-law. "Cassidy," I said "This is Kate, my next door neighbor." I knew Cassidy had no idea that we were heading into a church service. Part of the healing process that I've needed to do is to separate my former MIL from her son. I am working on allowing our relationship to be mended. Earlier in the week I had been dining with Kate, and she had mentioned the Friday Vespers that would be happening at church. See, this used to be my church for over 15 years. I all ready knew it is beautiful inside. In fact, there is so much that I know about it. If only I had a chance to tell my friend, and pull her back before she started across the street. I wasn't sure I could emotionally handle this building in my life yet. But, the Universe gives us what we need, when we need it.
We were inside and now heading towards the sanctuary where live jazz was enticing all within earshot to come and listen. I was greeted by familiar faces with hugs, and words of joy, "I'm so happy to see you." The words and hugs were heartfelt.
We picked a pew in the back of the church and sat down to listen to the music and singing. I thought maybe we could find a moment to sneak out before the service got started. My MIL, whose job as greeter was now over, entered the sanctuary and made her way back to sit next to me. This was now going to be more of a challenge to leave. I could walk though, if this became too emotionally difficult. When it came time for us to sing the first song, my MIL reached out to stead her side of my bulletin because I had offered and was sharing it with her. Cassidy chucked under her breathe. We hadn't talked about leaving early, but I suspect she had been having the same thoughts. We were now all in. We were meant to absorb what the universe was offering. We needed to be in this moment.
This service was called a Vesper Service, which means a sunset prayer. As the service went on, I felt it was more meditative in nature. It offered soft words that were meant to calm the chaos of life. The minister, whom I have known for what seems like forever, spoke in her positive tone. She and I are kindred spirits, and I felt the connection once again. I was being drawn into her positivity. The service was about balance and letting go of those things in our life we need to let go. After singing psalms, and poems of peace, there was a period when communion and prayer time was offered. This is a church that accepts all, and they mean all. No one is turned away. At this service, the church had several stations set up as alternative ways to be one with God. You could choose communion, you could lay your hands on a large globe and say a prayer for someone else in the world, you could go to the back narthex and draw a small picture, you could choose to light a candle as an offering, or you could write something on a piece of paper to let go. The paper could be placed into a bowl of water, stirred, and then melt away...releasing you from whatever you were holding on to. Cassidy looked at me at this point. She said, "Did you need to be here?" I felt her question was rhetorical, but responded any way, "I think I did." She asked if I wanted to participate in any of the stations. I said yes, and asked if she minded because this had not been part of how I thought we'd spend the evening. She gave me a smile of friendship and said she was happy to stay. It was in that moment that we both realized that the Universe was actually working some kind of magic. I decided I needed communion, because I needed to feel nourished by God, and I needed to release, by writing on one of those small bits of paper.
|First Christian Church|
I believe the Universe was speaking to me tonight. I have given so much and now it was time for me to receive back. I need to be able to heal completely so I can move forward in my life. Thank you Universe. Maybe my sabbatical from church is nearing it's end?
My soul was shattered and my spirit was broken.
Life is a forever forward moving process.
I am open Universe,
please continue giving me what I need,
when I am ready for it.
eating, praying and loving
*my feelings. The church didn't say, Lisa you are not welcomed. I just don't like being made to feel like a sinner for being human and living life while always trying to do the right thing.