An usher finally makes his way to our pew and signals that it’s our turn to head up to the altar. When I get there, I kneel next to Joe and hold out my hands to accept the bread.
“Tastes similar to what Baptist use,” I think.
Next up is the wine. I watch how Joe drinks from the cup because I’m not sure if I’m allowed to actually touch the chalice or something – because, you know, I might go to hell if I do the Eucharist wrong. I take hold of the bottom of the chalice with both thumbs and index fingers and guide the Holder of the Holy Cup (or whatever you call him or her) to my lips. I take a sip and…
HOLY EUCHARIST, BATMAN! This stuff is strong! Episcopalians know how to party! Did I just get saved?
I lean forward to him and say, “Hey! I’ve never been to an Episcopal church service before…”
“Oh really!” he says. “Don’t worry. I’ll show you everything you need to do.”
Oh, thank you sweet Jesus. You do exist.
He turns to me again and says, “The Episcopal Church is a lot more…”
“Liturgical?” I add.
“…yes. A lot of what we do is from centuries of tradition passed on to us. But if you give it a chance, you will love it.”
Throughout the entire time I’ve been sitting here, the organist has been playing. She switches songs and apparently everyone but me recognizes that this is the queue for the service to begin because they all shoot up like someone lit a fire under the pew. Coming from the back of church, a procession of priests is walking down the middle aisle towards the chancel.
The congregation begins to sing a hymn as all this is happening. We’re about to begin singing the last verse when it happens.
I’m sitting in one of the back pews of Saint John’s Episcopal Church. I have no idea what I’m getting into. I am way over my head.
Get out and experience new things he says. It’ll be fun he says.
I am absolutely, unequivocally taking a dive; jumping right off the proverbial cliff of my conservative Baptist life and heading into God knows where.
Walking in, I took in the beauty of this church. I was able to pick up things I didn’t notice at the PFLAG meeting. There’s a courtyard surrounded by the church building that is stunning, and the outside of the church is indescribably beautiful in the sunlight of the morning.
“This is a church building,” I thought.
And the inside is just as beautiful as the outside. I guess this all strikes a chord with me because Baptists don’t put an emphasis on aesthetic beauty. Sight or smell has no part in worship. Art doesn’t exist. A steeple, a few crosses, and you’re good. No matter which Baptist church you go to, it’s all the same boring routine as well. Stand, sing, sit, sing, preacher preaches, sing again with some sort of altar call (no one really knows exactly what to do here), and leave. We’re all just spectators. We watch the preacher preach. We watch the worship leader, band, praise team, or choir sing. We watch the person who sings us a special musical number. Then, we all go home and just sit on the sidelines some more; pretending to live a life worth some kind of meaning, pretending to look good among others, pretending to be people we really just don’t want to be or know how to be…watching, pretending…maybe that’s just me.
Thanks to everyone who has been patient with me as I finished my next installment of “and here we go.” My first experience at St. John’s Episcopal church is up next and you will be able to read it…TOMORROW NIGHT!!! Beautiful churches, angelic choirs, gay friends, a South American mentor, and Jesus “Party Wine” are just a few of the things you’ll get to read about!
If you have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, check out my previous writings here. They’re pretty good…not that I’m tooting my own horn (hehe…tooting). I’m just going by what others have told me.
So thanks for following, a BIG thanks for reading, and peace be with you.
Here’s a fractured fairytale I wrote for a 1st Grade class last year. It was inspired by my cat, Ziggy (who the class loved to talk about). Can you spot the similarities and differences from the real Frog Prince story?
There once was kitty named Ziggy, who lived in a small house by an enchanted forest.
There was nothing too interesting about Ziggy, but his favorite thing in the whole wide world was a ball of golden yarn. You could find him every day with that ball of golden yarn. He would bounce it and throw it, drop it and roll it. He would kick it, flick it, juggle it and even snuggle it. In fact he loved his golden ball of yarn so much, he was never without it.
One day, he was playing with his golden ball of yarn by the forest. He usually didn’t go deep in the forest, but today he was feeling quite adventurous. So he picked up his golden ball of yarn in his mouth and headed into the dense woods. As he was walking along he spotted a pond and decided this was a good place to stop and play; however, as he was playing, the ball slipped away and fell into the pond! Well, as you know, cats do not like to swim, and Ziggy was no exception.
“What do I do?” said Ziggy, “I can’t swim!”
At that moment an unusual frog with a crown on its head popped out of the water. Ziggy had never seen anything quite unusual as a frog wearing a crown on its head.
Okay, I know half of Tumblr is just DYING to hear more about my first experience at an Episcopal church. I’ve been working on it, but I hit a point where I just hated how I wrote it. So I went back and edited it some more. I’m almost done. And in case you haven’t read the beginning of my little adventure (and actually care), here’s a link to get warmed up:
I listen to the haunting, yet beautiful, notes. The piano starting softly then building, then dying back down again.
It reminds me, of course, of you. The dancing and swaying; how elegant it was. The moments when we stared deep into each other’s eyes. Knowing what we were thinking. That uncanny way we just got each other. How different the world seemed compared to us.
I swam in your deep blue ocean eyes. Swayed among the waves and
deep into your soul.
Though the sun has long set on us, I’m beginning to see beauty in the night. I’m beginning to understand that the day isn’t everything. That there still can be life and meaning under the stars. I can’t swim in your eyes anymore, but maybe, if I reach high enough, I can grab the moon and dive into the starry night sky. Just floating up there, looking down at the world, then dropping like stars and becoming one with the
After everyone is introduced, a few announcements are made. They talk about the Episcopalian Church blessing same sex unions at their annual convention, and celebrate the victory. However, it’s a bitter sweet victory because the bishop of their particular diocese will not allow his churches to use the blessing. Carl gave an announcement that the PRIDE group from a local college was going to protest Chick-Fil-A the next day. The infamous restaurant chain was having a promotion: dress up as a cow, get a free chicken sandwich. The PRIDE group was going dressed as cows, getting the free sandwiches, and then donating them to the homeless. For the rest of the meeting, Steven is asked to give a talk on The Family Tree; upcoming events, its new location, how we can get involved as volunteers, etc.
Throughout the meeting, and then talking with some of them afterwards, I began to make some revelations. I looked around at the people there who were gay, bi, or lesbian and one word popped into my mind. Normal. These people were like me. They genuinely wanted me to be there, to listen to what I had to say. And, did you catch that? “These people.” They’re not “these people,” they’re us. They are you and me. We have more similarities than we do differences. Why are so many people threatened by this community? What are they scared of? As we were mingling, their sexuality didn’t matter to me anymore. I wasn’t getting to know gays and lesbians, I was just getting to know new people.
I find that almost every single one of them is a self-proclaiming Christian. I don’t think I was expecting this. Even though this was being held in a church, I still wasn’t sure what the faith make-up would be. But these people were Christians. They don’t express bitterness about the church and other Christians, or how they’ve been mistreated; even though I’m sure they have. They genuinely want to see change in the church, not run from it – as we’re so apt to do.
There’s a girl already seated, but she doesn’t seem interested in talking, so I walk past her and sit on the opposite side of the circle. I open my journal, hoping to take notes about what I’m experiencing. I’m also writing down names because I’m horrible at remembering names. I write “PFLAG” at the top of the page, then put Sandi and Susan’s names underneath.
Finally, more people start to file in and are helping themselves to the rainbow Goldfish. I really should get up and go talk to them, but instead I’m glued to my chair. I decide to just stare at my journal instead and –
Shit! You idiot! You forgot to put the “L” in PFLAG!
Oh, my God.
I knew you would blow this. They’re going to run you off with pitch forks, you moron!
I didn’t mean to! What do I do?!
Fix it before someone sees! Try to squeeze in the “L”! Quick!
Nope! That still doesn’t work! Scratch it out! Hurry, someone’s comi…
“Hi! I’m Carl!”
I snap the journal shut and look up. Did he see the profanity written in my journal? I can feel the blood of embarrassment oozing into my cheeks. Oh, no. He’s going to think I’m blushing at him. I’m just staring at him with my mouth half-open.
Well, say “hi” before he thinks you have a crush on him.
“Oh, yeah! Hey there! I’m Matt! Nice meet you!” I say.
He saw, he definitely saw. Had to of seen. He thinks I’m a homophobe. He’s going to yell.
He sits down next to me.
“You mind if I sit here? Those other chairs are uncomfortable,” he says.
“Sure! No problem!” I say, a little too nervously.
I’m doing everything wrong here.
Nooooo. You’re doing fiiiine! They only think you’re a judgmental homophobe that wants to spy on them. Great job there, buddy!
"So, this your first time? It’s okay to be nervous," says Carl.
Ha! You have no idea, bud.
“Excuse me?” I ask.
“Is this your first time at PFLAG?” he clarifies.
“Oh yeah, yeah! I’m excited about it!” I say.
We talk for a bit and I find out that Carl and I are both twenty-five and we both recently got out of a relationship with a girl, but he’s quick to say he’s bisexual. Of course, he then asks me the question I was expecting before I arrived.
“So, are you straight or bi?” he asks.
Just find something and do it. Anything.*
I’m looking at a website with a list of community events around town and notice that there is a PFLAG meeting this Thursday night. I click on the event and discover that it’s a support/educational group for Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays. I have never really heard of them before. This sounds interesting, but I’m not sure.
Well, you wanted to step out of your comfort zone, this is it!
Yeah, but it’s so dramatic; kind of like taking a dive with a blindfold on. I mean, five years ago I believed you couldn’t be gay and go to heaven. You couldn’t be gay and be a faithful, obedient Christian. That was back when I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t know anyone who was openly gay or lesbian. I heard the stereotypes, “All thosequeers are just a bunch perverted child molesters.” Not that I necessarily agreed with that back then, but apathy doesn’t make you innocent either. It’s so easy to believe in stereotypes when you don’t have a face to go along with the myth. It’s easy to hate a faceless group of people – you have no personal or emotional attachment. Sure, my Baptist church never proactively and outspokenly bashed gays and lesbians, but you’re kidding yourself if you think they were actually welcomed.
It is two hours before the meeting starts. I’m beginning to have doubts about going.
Chicken. You always do this. Just get your ass out of the door. You need to do this.
Fine, I’ll go.
Wait, I’m going to miss Big Bang Theory. It starts at…
The meeting is going to be held in the library at Saint John’s Episcopal Church. I’ve never been to an Episcopal church before.I’m wondering if the people at the meeting are actually members of this church or if the church was just kind enough to offer their library to use as a meeting place. This should be interesting considering that the Episcopal Church just decided to bless same-sex unions at their annual convention. I wonder if that will be mentioned at the meeting.
At this point I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. I’m thinking there will be at least 30 people at this place. I’ll be able to blend in and just be a silent observer. I get to the church about 15 minutes early. I park across the street, enter the church, follow the directions to the library, and find myself alone with one other person. So much for blending in.