Sunday rolls around and we aren't going to church, as in a formal worship service, and so we sleep late and linger longer over breakfast. We savor silence and conversation, co-mingling in this communion.
If this makes us heathens, we gratefully accept.
Today, and every day, we are but two who make up this presence of Christ in the flesh in the world, this Body sacred scriptures calls us, breaking bread and drinking from the cup and opening our hearts to Christ all around, in the unexpected and unassuming.
We leave home after breakfast and seek refuge in a small chapel, on a private university campus in the middle of the city. It is often quiet here, but today, people are milling around, trailing out slow in conversation, in neatly pressed skirts and pants. A crazy man walks in, tweaking, making his way to the far end of the sanctuary, breaking the relative quiet with his monologue and jerky movements. Still, something here, some presence perhaps, drew him in, even in this state. And he came seeking refuge, too.
We move to a room off to one side, with whitewashed walls and quotes from saints, and a beautiful tree with smooth red bark stretching from floor to ceiling. The crazy man leaves minutes later in a sudden fury, crumpling his jacket into a ball and throwing it in spew of angry, incoherent words at a pew. He stalks out, leaving utter stillness in his wake.
I cannot remember the last time I sunk into silence like this.
I fall in, hungry. I try not to fill the silence with thoughts and words, and succeed for a few minutes, before dissolving in unspoken prayer.
I feel something in me dying and something in me waking, this fluid, furious cycle of growth and change. I am trying to ride it out, for in it I feel the dance of wholeness - death and life, darkness and light - and it is messy.
And it is life, the way in the chill of autumn's air and fiery blaze of death, life burns to the marrow in our bones, arousing our souls.
* * * * *
I never foresaw the day I'd feel like a misfit within the walls of a church. Any church. Right now, I will myself to go most weeks, if we go, and I cannot even say if this is a "season" (as we like to call phases such as these in the church) or if it's something deeper, more lasting.
I suspect the latter.
I cannot put it into words, but this: I am craning my neck to see Jesus, straining ears to hear him. And right now, I see and hear him best outside the walls of church. Outside the formalities and the ways we've clothed him in our varied interpretations of him and the expectations of how we are to act and think and be as members of this community of faith, and the language we use to convey these things. For when I walk inside, I hear more noise and confusion in my soul than I hear anything else.
I wish to peel it all back, to see who he really is, if that were even possible. To behold the mystery, and content myself with not knowing as much as I think I do, and perhaps glimpse him there, in the raw, like a burning bush.
I wonder at that man who threw his jacket in a spew of words and fled the church, and I think that God is big enough, to hold his children close within these walls as he holds his children close who are outside them. And whether we are "in" or "out" of church as a weekly gathering is not really the matter of his heart, I think, but that we are his, the way the whole earth and everything in it is his - and that we seek to love him and each other with our lives.
For when we do this, when we are this, are we not living as his Church?
It's here I'm learning to trust that my faith, my very soul, have expanded enough to hold this tension, this weight of uncertainty, without tearing down the middle. Because if God is so big as to hold all of this and all of us together, then surely, it is well with my soul.
Linking up with Unforced Rhythms