I like church. I like the buildings – giant gothic cathedrals, gargoyles, pipe organs, gold crosses that seem to glow even in the absence of light. I like passing through Little Italy by Canal Street and seeing all the Marys-in-the-half-shell.
I was raised in a church. Literally. My house was literally in a church. With a crypt. And gargoyles IN MY HOUSE.
And bats. So many bats. You don’t appreciate real masculinity until you see a 300lb linebacker cover his head and scream like a school girl from a 14 inch bat. There were secret tunnels. Iron gates. Towers and secret rooms and underground chapels and did I mention the crypt? I explored every square inch. I know all the secrets. I’ve seen the most beautiful craftsmanship only accessible by ladders and rope.
One time a cadet asked my father if he could spend the night in the chapel before graduation. Let me tell you a few things I learned living in a church:
- Gothic cathedrals are magnificent and really freaking scary.
- Everything, and I mean everything, is creepy in the dark. I don’t care how beautiful it is during the day. At 2 am even white fluffy kittens start to resemble gremlins – hungry, angry gremlins.
- I encourage everyone to try it. You really do get close to Jesus while the wind howls and moans through the belfry and you’re cowering in the corner of the choir vestibule in the fetal position singing “Nearer My God To Thee.”
I don’t remember the cadets name or what spiritual development he was looking for but I remember the look of panic marred with twitching exhaustion that comes from real, sleepless fear.
My father is a minister. One of my favorite Aunties is an Italian Catholic from Jersey with gorgeous skin and a hearty Long Island accent. My “spiritual well” is a Reformed Jew from NYC who outlived both her Rabbi husbands. I have a kid who thanks Jesus for her My Little Ponies.
My spiritual journey has been rich and varied. Every year I host a Seder dinner. I have a 14th century menorah that is among my favorite possessions. I also think Jesus is real.
Religion can be really beautiful. It can also be really divisive. I know you’ve experienced it. My God is a God of LOVE. Don’t dismiss God because organized religion failed you. Don’t let the state of the church deter you from the phenomenon of Faith.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about discovering who God wants you to be.”
Exercise and Edification. Running to Win. Wine and Wisdom – (oh wait thats next year…..)