This morning I went to Church. I am fairly new there, as I hadn't been to any church in a long time. As a teenager I professed myself to be an atheist, but at various other times in my life I have found myself "church searching" as I have come to call it. I have always wanted to be part of a church community and although as a teenager I professed myself an atheist I was just struggling with spirituality and what God really meant to me. During that time my whole argument that there was no God was that if there was, why was there so much suffering? I later realized that much of the suffering was man made. When I did venture to various churches I struggled with the amount of hate I heard. The words uttered from some of the most "devout" (they called themselves that) were often of hatred and superiority, and I just didn't see God that way. Long story short, after recently writing a spiritual journey paper for a theological class I was taking I decided to give it another shot. I have found myself within the church of my upbringing. Being born in England I was part of the Church of England, and when I decided to return to church I felt that maybe I should start where I began, so I now find myself at an Episcopal church. I do still hear some hate, but have chosen not to "throw out the baby with bath water."
Part of my desire for church is of course to satisfy my own spirituality, and to also enjoy a sense of community. I'm still pretty much a stranger to everyone there but do what I can to get involved. Today, our Deacon Ruth asked if anyone could deliver some flowers today. When no one spoke up, for some reason I volunteered. Ruth had to ask my name (like I said, still a stranger), but gave me instruction as to where to take the flowers.
My youngest daughter and I made our way to the address on the card to deliver the flowers to Louise. When we arrived it took her a while to answer the door, but when she did her face lit up and immediately she invited us inside. She talked about how lovely some of the flowers were that were sent from the church, and then just sat and chatted. I learned that Louise really can not make it to Church any longer due to macular degeneration and other difficulties. I know she couldn't really see my face, but she smiled at me non the less and delighted my daughter with tales of the various nick-knacks she had in her home. She offered several to my daughter who has now proudly displayed them in her room. Louise told me some fascinating stories about her life, her many travels and people she had known, I was entranced, I wondered what she was like when she was younger and about all the people she had known. She talked about the things she still does now, regular trips to the museum when she is able, and nieces who make regular visits. She was frustrated by the things she can't do so well on her own, but it is pretty clear that she's still out there, living, enjoying every moment that she can. When I first arrived at her house I thought I was just dropping off flowers, but I have come away with gifts for myself. She shared the gift of her stories, her warmth and her wisdom and I feel I have made a friend whom I cannot wait to see again. This is why I came to church, to know people, connect with them, to be helpful and to share a spiritual journey...
...I thought I was just delivering flowers...You should try it sometime.