I grew up in a church. I mean that almost literally — my parents were the pianist/organist/choir directors/all things musical for a small United Methodist church in Texas when I was young, and the church building was our second home. We spent hours and hours there each week, and while my parents worked, my sister and I were free to roam. I remember running up and down the upstairs hallways, hiding behind the large banners that alternated being hung in the sanctuary, and playing downstairs in the nursery.
We challenged each other to "slide under all the pews and see who can get to the back of the sanctuary first" games, and climbed in and out of the cabinets in the narthex. We were completely and absolutely at home there. And the church community was our family, too. We had more surrogate aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents than I can count. They were our people. Lord knows we spent more time with them than we did our extended family in Georgia and Michigan.
And then there was Kathleen. The most amazing minister of love and joy. While my family never considered itself particularly religious, she instilled in me a strong knowledge of a loving God that I've carried with me through the years. I miss her.
Through an unfortunate situation, my family left the church of my childhood when I was around 13. I've not had a church family since then, but the longing for one has always been quietly resting in me. I attended a church for a few months in college, but never felt at home there. That brings us to now: I'm in a place in my life where I want that family, want that community, want that place of love and joy. A month ago, Cait and I started visiting churches in the area.
On our second Sunday, we found a beautiful United Church of Christ a few blocks from our house. It's led by a strong female minister, which was something I really wanted. The congregation is very, very small, but so welcoming and open. I find myself looking forward to Sundays now, excited to be in a place of glory and worship. Whether or not I consider myself devoutly religious, I'm so happy to have the comfort of a church family back in my life. It's made such a difference.
I don't quite know where I'm going with this blog entry, but I wanted to write it. I'm grateful for the ability to find a new family, and grateful for the simple joy of being in congregation with likeminded people as I begin each new week. I'm grateful for faith.