Yesterday morning I went to St. Aiden’s for the first time in a while. Not that I haven’t wanted to go, but simply that due to work or being sick or other commitments, I just haven’t been able to make it in nearly 2 months. I’m still not sure what to make of the whole thing.
Two things first, though.
I am not in the same place as I was two months ago. Mentally, socially, or relationally. I’m in a better place than I was two months ago. I am more whole, more rounded, and more comfortable than I was two months ago. I am more sure of myself, more sure of my needs, and more sure of where I’m going than I was two months ago. If I were to imagine a bad analogy, two months ago I was floating around at sea with my life preserver, now I’m building my hut on my desert island replete with coconut phone.
The second thing I’d like to mention is that in no way is anything I’m about to say meant to be derogatory. I am simply in a different place than the people at St. Aiden’s. I’m not questioning their faith, their devotion, their sincerity, or their honesty. They are a good people, a good community, and I see God working in them.
It was a difficult decision to attend St. Aiden’s on Sunday. Certain relationships aren’t where they once were, and I wanted to respect that. I didn’t want to impose myself on the other’s space. But, at the same time, I wanted to head back to St. Aiden’s. So 9 minutes before the service started, I decided to go. I got there right as it was starting. I looked around for anybody I knew, and oddly, nobody was there. Well, there were lots of people there, but nobody that I knew. So I found an empty spot in a pew about 3/4 back from the front, and partook in the service. It was mostly how I remembered it; the music was the same (literally, some songs I’ve now heard every time I’ve gone there), the readings were great, and the sermon was “topical” (this week it was about the spiritual dangers of the occult). About half way through, though, it hit me. None of it was speaking to me. The music felt empty, the words being spoken in the sermon seemed trivial and irrelevant to me, and I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that this simply wasn’t a place where I was going to get the spiritual nourishment I needed. I listened the whole time, I processed what was being said. Most of it had no meaningful impact on me. I simply couldn’t use what was being given. I prayed a lot during the sermon, I wanted God to tell me what was going on; is this something I’m just feeling, or are you trying to tell me something.
He definitely was trying to tell me something. When it came time for communion, for the first time I can remember, I didn’t go and partake. I was not in a place where I should be having communion. I didn’t feel like I had adequately interacted with God; I didn’t feel spiritual nourishment, and worst of all, I didn’t really feel like I was in the community there. I was an outsider. Not by neglect of the people, but of my own being. My own needs. My own spiritual direction. It simply is not in the same direction as that Church.
So I passed on communion. This is a big deal. That’s all I can say about it. I stayed until the end of the service, received the dismissal and stayed through the closing song. I then promptly left. It’s not that I didn’t want to stick around, introduce myself to someone new, make friends, say hi to Father Brett…I just had to leave. That was it, simply.
Now I fear that I’ve painted a bad picture of St. Aiden’s. I do not think lowly of it, I do not dislike it, I do not think ill of it’s community. It is a vibrant Church with a caring, passionate community living for God.
But it’s not the Church for me. I feel that is what God was saying. He is pushing my life in a different direction with different needs than what St. Aiden’s offers to fill. So here I stand at a crossroads. Do I trust that this is what God is trying to tell me? Or is this something in my own head, a fabrication to protect myself in some way?
Either way, I think I’m going to take a break from St. Aiden’s for a while. There are a few other churches that were recommended to me; including several with a younger congregation and more active “extra-curricular” activities. The first is good because I still need to meet more people. I’ve found people that matter deeply to me, but I still need to hang out with others more. A church with a younger congregation would be really beneficial in that regard. The latter is important because I do shift work, and I need more opportunities to get involved since I can’t commit to a regular evening of a week. A church with an “overwhelming” amount of outreach and the like would probably provide me with just enough chances to get involved.
All that being said, Sunday morning was not my favorite morning. I was and am extremely blessed to have a girlfriend that let me visit on short notice and just spout out random barely connected thoughts as I tried to put it all together and to have a “second home” at St. Beneditct’s Table where, seemingly, I can always count on to be able to go and be spiritually filled.
God can be rather unsubtle when He tries to tell you something. Sunday was extremely jarring. It makes me think that He might be telling me something important; it makes me think He might have plans to put me to work somewhere else in His body.