I'm Having an Affair--No, Not that Kind of Affair


I have a confession to make.  For all of my life, I have been a member of the Catholic Church.  Our relationship has certainly had its ups and downs.  I was once in the priesthood, then I wasn't.  I have been in parishes where I felt a strong connection to the church and to my fellow parishoners, and others where I felt I was going through the motions.  But, through it all, I have stuck with Catholicism.

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.

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