This morning, I had to peel myself off of the Sunday-morning snuggle pile. Dennis, Little J, the intrepid Virgil, who spent most of the night braving the Sugartown storm, and I, cuddled while Little J read to us and we discussed our favorite dinosaurs.
In spite of the soaring cozy-factor inside, and in spite of the relentless rain outside, I really wanted to go to church.
I explained to Little J in terms that I knew he would understand: just like Ang, the Last Airbender, who meditates in order to connect to the spirit world, mama likes to go to church to connect to spirit and to say thank you for all that we have (especially our recent good news).
And just like my mom explained to me when I was Little J’s age, you don’t need to go to church to connect to spirit. It’s up to each of us to find our own way to align with the sacred in life. Dennis gardens and plays music. Mama meditates, cooks, does yoga, and sometimes goes to church.
“And you’ll find your own way, too,” I told him as I dashed out.
As the Jetta splashed down the swampy freeway, windshield-wipers all frenzied and ineffectual, I realized that Little J had, in a way, already been to church this weekend. On Friday night. I didn’t really have the words to explain this, even to myself, as I was thinking it.
But when I arrived at church, to my astonishment, Rev. Bill said it for me.
I sat down in the back row just as the Reverend explained that the people of the early 100′s A.D. knew that spirit resided within each of them. The idea of “going to church” was the same as simply “showing up” in the community with an open heart. In fact, the original meaning of Ecclesia was basically, gathering. Add the sharing of bread and wine, and you have the Love Feast or the Agape Feast. Later, this idea “evolved” to congregating in an actual site called a church and taking communion.
I thought of Little J, how ecstatically he dashed around Heather’s house on Friday night, bright red cheeks and toussled hair. He, Nafe, and Princess M ran wild well past their bedtimes, their excitement igniting in brilliant flashes of lightning behind stormy clouds outside.
We’d all gathered to see Nafe perform in the local school’s musical play. Afterward, the adults gathered in the kitchen and shared wine, Trader Joe’s delectable hors d’ oeuvres, and lots of heart-felt laughter. Heather, always the animated hostess, regaled us with the Tale of the Man from Capri, Debbie slayed us with her Bostonian one-liners, and my face ached from laughing so hard. Wine, check. Bread, check. Open hearts and communal connection, enormous check.
It’s not just me who feels the sacredness imbued in these spontaneous heartfelt gatherings.
Rev. Bill quoted Lewis Mumford who said:
Above all we need, particularly as children, the reassuring presence of a visible community, an intimate group that enfolds us with understanding and love.
It was all we could do to tear Little J away before he collapsed in dazed, fun-filled exhaustion. Cozy in his hand-knit sweater and already half-way to dreaming, he rode in his dad’s arms across the street to his bed.
Today I had confirmed for me one of my deepest beliefs. Spirit, the sacred, God, whatever you want to call it, is love. It glows from within, and we draw it from the people around us. And there is a place we can go when we want to be reminded of that. Inward.