I have to admit, I wrote this out and felt a little worried about posting it. Granted, COTGB grew out of a desire to chronicle my spiritual journey and I feel like in this and other circumstances I am pretty upfront about how I feel about things. Anyways what I'm saying is: it took a lot out of me to take the step I took today and it takes even more for me to put it out there. I feel good about sharing, but it's just one of those personal things that standing in contrast to the other stuff I usually post. That said:
I went to a Lutheran church this morning.
I've been thinking about going since August. It's hard to explain but I just got this hankering to be apart of a faith community again. Going back to the LDS church isn't an option I would deign to entertain, but I couldn't deny that I missed the ritual and the singing and the people. My selection of the church I went to this morning was, like many decisions I make, pretty arbitrary--it's close to where I live, appeared to have some cool midcentury architecture goin' on*, and like my alma mater, it's E.L.C.A. The latter gave me a pretty positive feeling about what I would find there, but I still waited a while to make sure it was something that I really wanted to do.
It was nice. I can't say there were fireworks or that I was deeply, powerfully moved but then, that wasn't really why I went in the first place. Today was apparently the Feast of the Reformation and the pastor talked about how since the Lutherans and the Catholics have reconciled, the focus is more on personal reformation in a context of grace and the belief that the church can grow with its people through continued reform. I liked the simplicity of it, and I liked the people I met. Fortuitously I found myself sitting next to the Utah Commissioner of Higher Education and his wife and the Dean of Students at Winminister College (additionally, a professor from my department and a librarian from Special Collections sang in the choir). It was nice to feel like I was in a place that academians find conducive to their spiritual growth-- that says a lot to me about the congregation and what goes on there week to week. It was a very pleasant experience over all.
I guess I write about this with a sense of mild surprise because I have at times in the past year professed that I would never go back to any church. It's been exactly that, a year, a whole year. After giving so much of myself over to the LDS church, the sense of loss and hurt never really goes away and the anger becomes inflammed periodically. Leaving the church never really impacted my feelings towards God or Jesus (or is it God/Jesus?) (I don't even think the specifics of that question matter any more) or my desire to be a decent human being but I have felt a little scared about diving back in to the regularized patterns of worship or accepting any kind of systematic belief system. It's like dating after being burned by a bad breakup-- you know that all of humanity isn't out to rip your heart out but they are still suspect. Getting back out there has to occur on your own terms.
Having realized more fully the spectrum of opportunities available to me, the many directions that my agency can take and the ultimate simplicity and potentcy of God's love, I knew exactly what my terms were. So today I allowed myself to wade in. I let myself appear at a church to indulge the very personal desire to worship and to be with people. I gave myself permission to be myself--a young aspiring lady historian (yes, back on that track again)-- and to let others accept me for who I am. I gave myself the opportunity to quietly evaluate where my life is in a setting that emphasizes goodness, gentle encouragement and personal variances in belief. I was there because I wanted to be there and what I wanted to get was exactly what I got. It felt great.
*the light fixtures really made my day, too.