Church Ladies

detail of ceramic sculptures, 1995

My girlfriend has a 10 year old son.

He wanted to go to church.

She, not being ‘organized religion savvy’ looked on the internet for Santa Fe possibilities. (Good techie mom she is..)


Yesterday, I went too.

I usually am really put off by the initial barrage of false-feeling, bug eyed strangers heading in my direction as I walk into a church for the first time.

‘She has done this before’, you say….

Yes. I am drawn to ritual. I like the feeling of singing with others. I do enjoy a bit of faith-en-mass.

Incense, candlelight, humility and hope and mystery seem like good companions sometimes.

Yesterday, I was surprised by sincerity.

No push to join the group.

No one asked for my vitals.

Just a bunch of regular folks setting aside some precious time to come together and turn their hearts toward something other than themselves.

Homage to the ‘larger than us’ we tend to tuck away at the back of the drawer.

I loved sitting with my friend.

We judged people.

(We talked about this later)

And we sang.

My voice was so small. I took note of that.

We all sat in the midst of the tailings of a theater performance the church had put on; painted scenery and make-shift changing rooms and other flotsom from the previous night.

The only real prop added to the actual service was a chalice with a candle and flame in the center.

All the makings of a very human existence were well represented and had a place reserved for them: sorrow, hope, meditation, voice, order, chaos, questions and there were even a few answers.

I was left with the calm and pleasure in my friends company.

And the strangers who I didn’t need to armor myself against.

I liked the whole thing a lot and may go back.

So precious this human journey as we try to make sense of it all.

I feel the need here to tell my version of a church I’d love to attend:

Gospel choir.. very black and sort of wild, the event held in a wood down a secret path somewhere in the high desert at dusk or dawn, rocks and hay bales for chairs, a 10 year old kid next to me and a Native American teenager on the other side. No words read from any book. A chance to speak if moved to do so. Flowers, flowers everywhere. Animals, animals everywhere. Unlikely characters pouring out of the half-dark. And at the center of it all just a simple fire. And the unmistakable presence of the ‘all-that-is.’ And the sound would be one I had never, ever heard before. And everyone I have ever loved or ever wanted to would be there.



2 Responses to “Church Ladies”

  1. karen gordon on June 30th, 2010

    mmm…beautiful. sounds and feels beautiful. can i come? 🙂

  2. Caitlin on June 30th, 2010

    Dearest Cathy,
    our minister from Vermont – Gary Kowalski will be the interim UU Minister in Santa Fe next year (August on? or september). One statement he made that I remember is “sometimes you just have to worship GOD – the Great Outdoors”
    we also decided it was the best place to raise a kid … especially when Bridge said “God is the ruler of the world; she makes all the rules.” And I love openess to question, ponder, and just be.
    Best to you Cathy,

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