Spirituality, Liturgy and the Tao of Inner Peace
I will never forget the spring of my junior year at Samford University, a couple of older students had just gotten married after graduation, and stayed at the historic Tutwiler Hotel for their first night. My then boyfriend asked the groom how was the hotel? I will never forget what he said “It was really nice, but all the furniture was really OLD!” We laughed and laughed because the Tutwiler was indeed a very nice hotel and at the time the bridal suite was furnished with antiques.
I had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago when I had a young visitor to church and afterwards they asserted that my church was nice, but had very old crowd with not enough young people and was very traditional. I was immediately defensive much like someone who calls your brother a bad name – I might speak ill of him but you sure can’t!
I love my church, I love the people of my church, it is a holy of holy for me, why wouldn’t everyone see it the same? I have milled this around for a couple of weeks now wondering if I was overly sensitive, or was there something I was missing in my church? In my reflection, I don’t think so, but I do think there is something missing in our world. You see, much like the young man who thought the furniture was old in the historic hotel, not having an appreciation for the antiques, our generation and the next has little or no appreciation for the traditions of our church. If you don’t know much about the Episcopal Church, let me set the scene for you…there is no band, no drummer behind a plexiglass front, there are no big screen TVs, not that there is anything wrong with that. It is a place where the very old traditions of the church come to live, mostly taken from our predecessor the Catholic Church.
We are still doing the same things they were doing in the 6th century, meaning we follow an order of worship, we kneel for common prayers, we stand to sing, typically out of a hymnal with an organ, but not always, and we always have Holy Eucharist (communion). There are two things that I love about this; one it’s very different from a concert or some other part of my week, it’s quite, it’s reverent I know I am at church, two, I can walk into any Episcopal Church anywhere and be at home, know the play book if you will – there is solace in a routine. Too often I believe we seek to entertain our children instead of teach them patience, listening, sitting still and learning the traditions that got us to where we are today. I do not go to church to be entertained, I go to worship, to pray, and to make amends for my sins. I go to fellowship, but that is secondary to my soul-searching for wisdom, my voice wanting to give a gift of song, and my heart wanting to learn to love more. I am drawn to the historic, the idea that I am kneeling and going through a practice of faith, that while not modern or flashy, has stood the test of time. I am drawn to a place so different from the secular world I live in, it causes me to pause. When I looked out this morning I will tell you what I saw, I saw a church filled with brown and white faces, young and thankfully older and wiser faces, I saw my good friends who are in love and just happen to both be girls. I thought of my good friend who sang not too long ago and is not only a gay but also a white man in love with an African-American man. I saw a church that loves all people – that welcomes all people, and although it may not be modern or entertaining it is at the heart of the gospel and I would never want to be anywhere else – young or not.
Cameron “an oldie but goodie”