Where did my church go?

The church has always been a second home to me. I used to take naps in the pews of the church when I was very young while my mom prepared the altar for Sunday services. I would smoosh my face in to the corner of the pew, inhale deeply, relax, and drift off to sleep. I can still smell the mix of candle wax, incense and aged wood when I close my eyes. Sometimes I even dream I am back in that church, peacefully sleeping on those hard wooden benches (in between the two-hour naps my son allows me take at night). The Church is part of me - probably contributing more toward my formation than any other institution - and I cannot imagine being without it. Sometimes, at night random hymns float through my brain. The beautiful prayers only found in the BCP roll off my tongue almost unconsciously. And yet, every Sunday as I pray the Eucharist, something new stands out to me. I find some word I never remembered saying before, some phrase that has new meaning on that Sunday. And I am never bored.

I have always felt so comfortable in this church. But recently, I just don't feel at home here. Some days I feel like the church as I thought it to be is being slowly pulled out from underneath me. I am tired of having to watch what I say (of course that's always the bane of the pastor). I am tired of hearing about "those people" or "the gays" or "HOMO-sex-U-als" (because we can never say it normally). I am tired the various sides shouting at each other. I am tired of money driving every decision, every fight, every ministry. I am tired of still, after 30 years, having to prove that I have any right to claim the ordination the church has bestowed on me. I am tired of feeling like what I believe (those things that were formed by this very church) is somehow wrong, somehow out of sync with the rest of the church. Some days I just wish I could go back to being that little girl asleep on the pew, comfortable and at home.

It wasn't until I was ordained in this church that I felt like I was less simply because I was a girl. All through college, it was the girls who were hailed as smarter, more creative, more dedicated. Professors actually listened to me, sometimes even sought out my opinion. But since my first clergy day, I found myself in this endlessly revolving scenario: Someone would ask for an opinion. I would offer mine. The rest of the clergy would stare at me, mouths wide open, with a dumbfounded look on each of their faces. Then, five minutes later, some GUY would repeat what I said, nearly word-for-word. And the crowd would ooh and aah over the depth and insight. And so, I just stopped saying things. What was the point?

What's the point of all this - I don't know. What's the point of having a blog? Mostly, what I mean to say is that I love this Church to which I have given my life. And yet, I just don't feel comfortable in it these days. And I think I am probably not alone. At least I know two others feel the same. That's why we've come together to have some fun, ponder, muse, and blab on and on about the stuff we can't say to our congregations. Things we just can't stuff down any more. And so, I have found myself blogging on the internet - somehow adrift from a church I spent my whole life in. And I want it back.

1 comment:

Axis II Pastoral Disorder with Priestly Features said...

Thanks. This was a beautiful way to begin. Here's to our future, and to the future of God's church. "Can't we all just get along?"