I'm Having an Affair--No, Not that Kind of Affair
Right after Easter this year, I felt a strong sense of disconnect from the church, despite the fact that I was very happy with the election of Pope Francis. I'm not entirely sure the reasons behind this--that's something I hope to figure out in time. But it was real, and it made it hard to go to church on Sundays. It felt like I was stuck in neutral, without any way to go anywhere, let alone toward a destination.
For a couple of weeks, I didn't go to church at all. I figured it was maybe time for a bit of space--a trial separation if you will. That proved wholly unsatisfactory. I felt that something very key was missing from my Sundays. More importantly, I couldn't let this situation persist, and I felt I needed to do something to attempt to figure out what was going on inside my mind and my heart. I needed to try something, to see if it might be a way to break out of this stasis.
So, four weeks ago I started my affair--I went to the Episcopal church in downtown Columbus.
Trinity is a smallish old church, right across the street from the Ohio state Capitol. Upon walking in for the first time, I immediately felt like an outsider. Note that the people at Trinity certainly didn't make me feel like an outsider; the sense of being an interloper was entirely in my head. Despite this, the liturgy was similar enough that it felt comfortable, and was done in a simple but reverent style. There was a mix of people of all races and ages. The preaching was good. Everyone was friendly.
After the second week, I realized something very disconcerting. I kind of like going to Trinity Episcopal Church.
The fact I liked it scared me. I think it raised some uncomfortable questions in my mind, questions that I wasn't ready to address. As a result, I skipped Trinity two weeks ago. But, yesterday, I went back. The pastor was back from vacation, and he picked me out as the newcomer before service and made a point of greeting me. I told him (in the too-quick staccato voice of a person who has been caught with a hand in the cookie jar) that I was a Catholic who was just visiting, which was greeted with an invitation to come back any time. His sermon was excellent.
Truly, this feels like I am having an affair. I know that is silly and irrational, but that is how it feels. Perhaps the love (or lust) will fade and I will realize that there is more to life than these passing flirtations. Perhaps this will cause me to look at faith in a different way and be enriched by the whole thing. Or, perhaps this is the beginning of a 90 degree turn on the religion front. We'll see.
One thing I do know, though. I am going back on Sunday.