I’ve never been a churchgoer. I guess it was just the way I was raised. Non-denominational and with nary a Sunday school class in sight. At 44 I’m not proud to admit that my knowledge of the Bible is limited at best. I mean, next to 50 Shades of Grey, it’s the world’s widest read book. I should at least have a working knowledge of it…which of course, is exactly why I subjected myself to the other book (and the next two volumes!) by the way.
Religious ceremonies and traditions aren’t my forte but fellowship, community and gatherings are.
I’m married. I chose to get married knowing it was a tradition born from religious foundation …and yet, when, at 36 years old, I met my now-husband, I knew I wanted to marry him. So we got married. In a garden. With lots of champagne (for me) and scotch (for him) surrounded by everyone we love most in the world. Except for our mothers. They weren’t there.
When my mother died 13 years ago I helped her to organize her funeral party. She called it her “graduation ceremony” and she wanted to be alive to enjoy it. We didn’t want a maudlin affair where she was fondly remembered and we commiserated over a corpse. We all wanted a party where she could attend and actually hear all the wonderful things people had to say about her. Don’t you often find that – when you quit a job or attend a funeral – people get honest and say all the things (usually nice) that they wish they’d told you sooner? Yeah. That.
So as you can see, by-the-book religious rituals have never featured high on my list of life ‘must dos’. I’m a rule breaker. My mother would be proud.
Whenever I do lift the covers of any religion (not just the biblical kind) I find myself getting angry. I despise any level of complexity, duplicity and generally anything that doesn’t allow people to accept and love each other equally irrespective of race, creed or life choices.
But fellowship? Being united in a common cause? Being part of a supportive, non-judgmental community? That is something I can get into bed with.
My Dad joined a church not long after he and my mother divorced (after more than 20 years). I didn’t get it at the time; I thought it was weak (I was 14, I pretty much hated the world anyway). Turning to religion only when the chips were down when, up to that point in my lifetime, he’d never been a churchgoer. But he wasn’t turning to religion. He was turning to the community. For support. To belong somewhere in challenging times. I get that now. And I’m thankful that the church provided sanctuary like that.
That’s kind of how I feel about 28. It’s offered me a sanctuary of sorts. Not of the religious kind but of the community kind. We’re bound by a common cause to unite and change ourselves and better the world around us at the same time.
We back each other. We like each other. We send kind thoughts and some of us even meet and help in the real world. We donate to the collection plate by helping each other out when in financial need. Let’s face it, we are one kick-ass community.
Sadly, we’re not immune to the sermons though. “Father Sam” posts his messages frequently, but at around two minutes I doubt any parishioner would fall asleep.
And while I often yell “Jesus Christ Sam!” at 6.30 in the morning right before collapsing to my prayer mat and falling into Happy Baby, Sam Wood isn’t a God. He’s just a man, standing in front of a girl, asking her to accept a rose… no, seriously…he’s not a God. But he is a leader. He has created an amazing ‘church’ where we can all be ourselves. Where we can fuck up and return with unconditional love. Tough love sometimes, but love.
28 by Sam Wood.
I’m not here to pray…I’m here to stay.