There was a time when this blog was incredibly faith-centric. I pondered "who is God?" and published my prayer for 'labor day'. For the last two years, there has been radio silence on the whole religious front. There was not one, big catastrophic event that led to my "break up" with the Church. Nor do I harbor ill feelings toward Christianity. I wanted to disassociate myself from Christians who I felt were perverting the message of Jesus. I read books and articles about science and climate change and wondered whether a higher power really does exist. I stepped away from the Bible because I don't like much of what it says and I'm too lazy to grapple with the many contradictions.
So, over time I just kind of took a step away from Christianity. I haven't found answers to any of my questions or doubts and there is a large part of me that I would describe as agnostic, but in the last few months, I have found a church family and I love it.
If that is confusing, just imagine what it's like to be in my head! Here's the thing- I like Jesus. I like Jesus a lot. I love that he called out the arrogant and raised up the meek and downtrodden. I love that he cherished children and their innocence and unsullied wisdom. I love that his entire life was a demonstration in sacrificial and unconditional love. He is a man I want to model in my own life and someone I want my boys to grow up with as an example.
Before we started attending regularly in November, I had been to my church once or twice for Christmas Eve services. However, there were a series of events that led me to give Chuck a harder nudge (he's more devout than I am, but just hates the socially awkward weirdness of Church) to attend. In September, Crosby was born. My Pastor (who I didn't know well at the time) had two pizzas delivered to our door the week we came home from the hospital. We had family members who live in the same town and did not once attempt to meet Crosby or stop by to see how we were adjusting. So the fact that this woman whom I barely knew went out of her way to make such a thoughtful gesture spoke volumes.
Not long after, the 2016 election happened. I felt like I was swimming in a sea of hatred, cruelty, and vitriol. It was becoming overwhelming and I despaired at the thought of raising my boys in such a hurt and hate-filled world. It became clear to me that I needed to be intentional about ensuring that they were surrounded by a community that modeled those same things that Jesus did- love, peace, compassion, humility, and kindness. I looked around to the people in our life who I felt were perfect examples and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they all had one thing in common- they were Quakers.
I wasn't very familiar with the Quaker tradition until I began attending our Friends Meeting. Perhaps the greatest source of my uncomfortability was with "waiting worship," in which Friends sit in silence until the Spirit leads someone to speak, It's weird to sit silently in Church for half an hour if you've only experienced very programmatic worship. But as I've grown more accustomed, I've also grown to love it. I remember reading in Eat Pray Love, that Liz Gilbert equated prayer with talking to God and meditation with listening to God. That really resonated with me the first time I read her book and I love that I've found a faith tradition that similarly values the beauty in waiting and listening for God's voice.
While Quaker theology can differ greatly from meeting to meeting, some of the things I love most about our church are their commitment to nonviolence, simple living, and their belief in the inherent equality and dignity of all human beings. Our meeting is not big, nor contemporary. But its members have been more kind and welcoming than we could have ever hoped for (which is especially meaningful when you feel entirely self-conscious about the two year-old who refuses to sit still in the back pew).
I still don't know what or even if I believe. But I'm happy to have found a spiritual landing place where I feel safe to explore the answers to all the questions in my mind. More than anything though, I'm happy to have found a church family for my boys to call their own. The fact that Charlie and Crosby will grow up surrounded by a group of peace-seeking, equality-promoting, simple-living Friends is almost too much for my Mama Bear heart to bear.