When I began that Church a Day writing project, I thought I might find God. I thought I would find out why my Great Uncle Bob loved being a Knight of Columbus. He’d dress up all in white and carry himself proudly as he made his way to his church, the Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, Florida.
My childhood memories are imbued with memories of happy church events — of my First Holy Communion, of my father reading at a podium of St. Joan of Arc, of my walking the aisle as a flower girl at my godfather’s wedding, of singing with a Sun City choir as a teenager.
And because I loved church, I started the Church a Day journey. I thought I might find out why I always felt better, coming out of a church than going in.
After a month of visiting churches ten years ago, I discovered — maybe it’s obvious to you — that God was not found alone in a pew. He/she/God was found, at the front door, in the people — the welcoming handyman who turned on the lights for me or the shyly smiling older woman in the row ahead of me.
The thing I hated though, as I sat in the pew, was the moment a priest, pastor, chaplain, deacon, or officiant began puttering around in the sanctuary. Or the altar. Or vestibule. As if a service might start at any moment and I’d be trapped — having to sing or recite some rote passage.
And then the other side of church would set in — my childhood boredom and teen doubt and adult acknowledgement of the ridiculousness and unlikeliness of the Christian faith. I didn’t want any part of organized religion.
I simply wanted to feel the wooden pew, sometimes padded beneath my seat. I wanted to smell the musty, dusty sacred air. I wanted to stare at the symbolism of the stained glass windows. And the way the light shone through them, catching the dust motes. I wanted to be alone with God.
So I must tell you, I won a little award for that Church a Day blog from the Religion Communicators Council. I felt proud and embarrassed. And I share this with you — why? To let you know that I did dig deep and I have had writing success.
Visiting a church a day was a solitary endeavor. I didn’t know what I would find. Didn’t know if I would need anything. Or anyone. And I didn’t want to have to ask. Well, that’s a theme in my life. Like I should know it all already. That I should leave the wisdom of the world to everyone else.
Sitting in a nearly empty church, for it’s true, the churches were almost always empty, I felt at peace.
And I’m embarking on a 100 day project and considered visiting a church a day.
But I have questions:
What if the churches are closed?
What if the people don’t let me in?
What if I get stuck in the middle of a service?
And who will I meet?
Where will I sit?
Will I find some calm?
Will wisdom descend on me? Or will I learn to be patient for the ways in which I am not wise?
Will, as in the earlier journey, I discover that faith is not found in places? It is found in people.
And so as not to hem myself in and so as to participate in #the100dayproject, I’ll simply call my church a day, thinking about god and beauty project, #100daysofPoemsandPics so that I can play with words and pictures.
I advise you too to start your day by visiting poems and gaining inspiration at the Poetry Foundation.