I used to go to church every Sunday. Over the past 15 years of my life, I have cycled through (or at least made cameos in) a wide array of Christan denominations until officially joining a United Church of Christ (Jeremiah Wright -woop woop!) congregation in Atlanta 2 years ago. Since moving to Austin 1 year ago, I have pretty much stopped going to church altogether (except when my partner is in town because there is a church she likes here).
So, why have I stopped going?
I think, in part, because weekends have become such precious time to me. With my corporate, daily, 8 to 5 grind, I have very few opportunities to sleep in and enjoy leisure. And since God is everywhere, surely She won’t mind meeting up with me in my cozy bed or on my patio, in my pajamas, with a hookah. Frankly, I don’t want more “stuff to do”. I don’t want to get up and get dressed.
Also, I mostly find church boring now. I did find a place in Austin that did not bore me but the people were unfriendly (typical Austin–don’t believe what you hear about the “friendly people” here). And since I can find plenty of ways to be un-bored without being surrounded by unfriendly people, I opted out. But let’s face it, when you’ve gone to church your whole life, there’s very little that you will find surprising, novel, or captivating. I need some challenging shit…and well…
Along those same lines, I am not sure if church has the answers to the most important questions in my life at the moment. Not that church should be a place of answers, but even if it’s a place of questions…I’m not sure me and churches are asking the same questions.
And another thing! I don’t even know what I believe about God anymore. I mean, I believe that God exists and that God is the Source of Good. Aaaaannnnd that’s all I’ve got. So, I am increasingly uncomfortable in places that would make assertions too far beyond that.
And THEN I turned out to be queer. Soooooo…that drastically reduces the number of church options for me (unless I’m open to sermons about “biblical marriage” and “homosexual lifestyles” and “love the sinner, hate the sin” haha). Most churches that are affirming of LGBTQ folk are like these old, mainline, wilting churches that have less to offer me than I have to offer them. And when I am in these spaces, I can feel the desperation to grab hold of me as the young/black/queer/whatever one that enriches their congregation but probably won’t find a sense of belonging/community in return.
I wish there was a place I could go to learn about Taosim. (And I can imagine a Taoist sage saying to me, “There is. That place is the stillness inside of you.”) And what of my interest in an African spirituality, which was abruptly thwarted by my relocation to Austin?
It is Sunday, and I am searching for new ways to make this day meaningful to me again. Though no day is more sacred than another, my inner Pentecostal will always long for a specialness about Sundays. Today, I went to church in my 1-bedroom apartment. I slept in. I lit incense. I spent 5 minutes being quiet and still (and trying to locate my third eye, ha). I lit a candle. I drank coffee. I read from books that feed my spirit. I journaled. Later, I will walk my dog in the fresh air, prepare a meal, and finish coloring that mandala I started.
And maybe all of that is sacred enough.