Today I went to church.
I was up at nine and rushed to get myself ready in time for church in Willunga, I had to ring my mum to help me decide which dress to wear and ended up going with flowers to match the flowering of the cross the would happen later. I slightly tore down the road to get to Willunga in time but I made it in time to meet my family outside the church and we all headed in together. It’s the first time I’ve been at a church service in a long time.
I went in knowing there would be some disconnect between myself and the service, especially because of my atheism. But I also recognise the value that religion and spirituality can provide to people from a mental health and general wellbeing perspective and I wanted to at least be open to learning lessons that were applicable to my life.
When I was a teenager in the church I really wanted to fully understand how God worked and all the intricacies of that which included wanting to experience being filled with the Holy Spirit and I was always frustrated that it would happen to people around me but that I never really got that feeling. Eventually towards the end of my faith as it was pretty noticeably unravelling, as I started investigating radical alternate theologies within the moderate Protestant tradition, getting invested in things like the works of Peter Rollins, I started to learn that the Holy Spirit would be brought on in people by certain things, what I now recognise as certain kinds of stimuli and that one could prime oneself for those experiences so that one allowed the stimuli and resulting spiritual experience phenomena could just wash over oneself without resistance and that you would be able to have a very profound connection to your experience. I found that I could employ that, relatively simple skill in multiple types of experiences to witness the “divine” in a starry night sky, for instance.
I’ve learned to just tap on that very slightly from time to time since leaving the church and becoming an atheist but this morning in church I decided to turn it on a bit more for the first time for a very long time and it definitely helped me more profoundly accept a lesson of self improvement and self forgiveness that was otherwise provided in a fairly average sermon.
It did also make me wish there were a way I could practice giving sermons in a secular way though. Towards the end of the service we all participated in the flowering of the cross which was as beautiful as it alway was, seeing the dead wood transform into the vibrant colourful symbol of new life as each person brings something to it.
The passing of the peace as well as the casual discussion after the service were a little weird because people who had known me as a youngster didn’t recognise me, sometimes my mum introduced me to them as if they’d never met me before, and a couple of people mistook me for one of my sisters, maybe because they assumed mum only had one trans daughter? I managed to navigate the situation pretty gracefully and even went and had a cup of tea and a scone in the hall with Emily’s mum afterwards where I accidentally got into discussions about games and philosophy with a couple of people before finally heading off.
I stopped in at home to pick up chocolate and hot cross buns before heading straight back out again to Dave and Sarah’s place.
From the time I got there till something like two in the morning we just sat and chatted together. We talked about some personal stuff and some really silly stuff and I just felt so thankful that I’ve learned to make friends with people who make me feel safe and welcome and whom I can offer that care to in return. I had planned on doing some work on my 200 word RPG entries at some point but I never got around to it because of all the intense hanging out. Considering how late we ended up letting it get I decided to spend the night on their futon.
Tomorrow I need to head home and work on my 200 word RPGs before getting ready for my monday night DungeonWorld stream, which I am super excited about!