Easter is calling me back to the church

I went to church on Easter Sunday last year, and never went back. It wasn’t a boycott, exactly. It was an inability, week after week, to face the other believers…At church, all I could think about were the millions of people likely to lose their health insurance thanks to Catholic bishops who opposed the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act. I was supposed to be thinking about the infinite love of a merciful God, but all I could hear were thousands of Christians shouting, “Build that wall!” By the time Easter had come and gone, I was gone too…

In the past year, while my husband and his father were at church on Sunday mornings, I was in the woods, where God has always seemed more palpably present to me anyway. (And not just to me: “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church,” Emily Dickinson wrote back in the 19th century. “I keep it, staying at Home.”) For me, a church can’t summon half the awe and gratitude inspired by a full-throated forest in all its indifferent splendor.

The year away from church hasn’t made me miss the place itself. I don’t miss the stained glass. I don’t miss the gleaming chalice or the glowing candles or the sweeping vestments. But I do miss being part of a congregation. I miss standing side by side with other people, our eyes gazing in the same direction, our voices murmuring the same prayers in a fallen world. I miss the wiggling babies grinning at me over their parents’ shoulders. I miss reaching for a stranger to offer the handshake of peace. I miss the singing.

So I will be at Mass again on Easter morning, as I have been on almost every Easter morning of my life. I will wear white and remember the ones I loved who sat beside me in the pew and whose participation in the eternal has found another form, whatever it turns out to be. I will lift my voice in song and give thanks for my life. I will pray for my church and my country, especially the people my church and my country are failing. And then I will walk into the world and do my best to practice resurrection.

~ Margaret Renkl, from Easter Is Calling Me Back to the Church (NY Times, March 25, 2018)

 


Photo: Arnaud Maupetit

Comments

  1. Powerful. She speaks to such a piercing question at this particular moment in time…the need for community. There’s so much division in our world at the moment…I find myself leery of casual conversation these days, fearful that it will suddenly take a hard right into a vicious diatribe about politics, guns, choice, something… I feel very weary, and sad….

    Liked by 7 people

  2. I find God in the woods and in the full-throated forest in all its splendour too. Happy Easter to you and your family Mr K, no matter where you are 🐇🐇🐇

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It’s the people.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In this empty, quieted room can my whispered “amen” be heard?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Margaret Renkl is saying what’s in my heart and soul. I’ve given myself some slack on attending church in my senior years and am very content with my spiritual life at this time in my life. She reminds me of the common bonds we all have in spite of the battle of opinions that are dividing us. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such deeply felt words and thoughts. I’m a practising christian, but not in a ‘we know it all’ way, no desire to ‘show the way’ to anybody who is not ‘searching’ a different way. I also have no problem to admit that I too would miss the community, the common goal, a certain level of comprehending th important goal posts in life. i also totally understand everybody NOT going to church for all the stated reasons and many more.
    On the other hand two of my siblings have experienced the probably harshest Holy Week in a very long time (both presently at hospital) and I’m amazed at their faculty to stay positive and stating: Well, there’s no Easter w/o Good Friday. In this sense: Happy Easter everybody.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. It’s so easy to forget that ‘The church is not the people,’ the pastor or priest is not the church, ‘the people are the church.’ What she said is so true in many ways. The subject beckons deeper discussions that are so very important. Differences are what makes up this world. I love when my family all get together. We don’t all agree on all things, but we are family and we love each other and love spending time together. We share, we learn from each other. The church are people coming together as family regardless of where they meet or what everyone’s views are. Thanks for the post David. You have set my thoughts in motion, and that is what family is all about. Maybe I should say thank you brother, or thank you sister, because in the end, we are all related somehow, we are all brothers and sisters. Differences of opinion should not separate us, it should help us grow. Whether one believes in Jesus or not, when he said love you neighbor as yourself, he was right. We could change the world if we followed this.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. So much I want to say I don’t know where to start…

    Happy Easter to everyone 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ll go down to where water meets land as I do every Sunday, and see and hear the word of God on the ocean breeze, in the sky and clouds; and I’ll greet the other souls who have come there too, those living and those who have moved on to other worlds.
    Happy Easter.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. “What if religion was each other?
    If our practice was our life?
    If prayer was our words?
    What if the temple was the Earth?
    If forests were our church?
    If holy water – the rivers, lakes, and oceans?
    What if meditation was our relationships?
    If the Teacher was life?
    If wisdom was knowledge?
    If love was the center of our being.”
    ― Ganga White

    May we all find our way to love and resurrection. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is excellent!! Thank you, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Amen. The faults we find in the church are not the fault of its Founder. For He is infallible. It is the fault of its custodians. Who themselves have proven to be quite fallible.
    The church was consummated on Good Friday at the foot of the cross. Christ is the church (the bridegroom) and He tells His mother Mary to look upon the Apostle John as Her son and tells John to look upon Mary as his mother. In that Mary becomes the Mother of the Church and John its first member. She is the mother of the church and therefore like John we are all Her children. And are brothers and sisters of Christ.

    This is the Church that must be a refuge to a fallen world. Margret rediscovers this in looking beyond the failures of too many church leaders. The sacrifice of the Mass is the main purpose of the church. He came to save souls and reconcile each of us with God. This is personal and not a social cause. When the church leaders lose sight of this, good Catholics like Margaret may be lost. And for that they will have to answer to God.

    Hold fast to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no matter the distractions one may find in some wayward ecclesial practices. For we seek the true Church that is not only right when the world is right, but most importantly is right when the world is wrong.
    -Alan

    Liked by 2 people

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