Saturday, June 18, 2016

I'm Going to Church Tomorrow

It's Saturday night, just before 9:00pm. I suppose many of you are sliding into a cute pair of heels and applying a bit of lip gloss, ready to see what might be waiting for you at a bar downtown. Others of you may be halfway through a Redbox movie, still waiting to see if you're going to be glad you spent $1.50 to rent the film. Or maybe you've just poured yourself a glass of wine because the kids are finally all in bed. It's now time to start thinking about what tomorrow will hold. Will you set the alarm or sleep in? Will you go to brunch or the farmer's market? Will you brew coffee at home or take the Washington Post to the nearest Starbuck's?

These decisions are not ones we have to make in our house. In fact, I've had my pajamas on for over an hour. Saturday night is an early night at our house because we always go to church. It's the highlight of my week professionally, and my husband is a devout Catholic who never misses mass. And yet, on this night, my heart can hardly wait to to go to church tomorrow. My spirit longs to be in a sanctuary filled with a community of people whose stories I know, whose lives intersect with mine. But I also desperately need to be reminded that there is something more to this life, that God is with us in the pain, that the light shines in the darkness.

I've cried twice today while reading the words of two friends, two mothers whose hearts are hurting. One is the mother of an 11-year-old daughter who was believed to have beat leukemia. Their lives were returning to normal when strange symptoms appeared early this week. Tests revealed the worst possible news. The leukemia is back. Rather than starting summer at the pool with friends, this child will spend 28 days in the hospital with needles pouring chemo into her body. Another friend is facing Father's Day for the first time without her husband who died five months ago. She and her three young children have made plans to skip church, eat donuts and watch television because there are no Hallmark cards with instructions for what to do on the first Father's Day since Daddy died.

And then there is Orlando, and all these incredibly sad stories about lives being celebrated much too soon. It was this time last week when outfits would have been selected, plans would have been made, drinks would have been poured. "Let's go dancing." "I want to go to Pulse." "Our community will be there." But lives - so many lives have been shattered.

I need to go to church tomorrow. I need to go because I'll be reminded of a light that shines in the darkness. I need to go because there are times when just sitting in the sanctuary and looking at stained glass windows is enough. I need to go because there will be people there who know my name and glimpses of my story. I need to go because the sermon is one I need to hear even as it will flow through my lips - the importance of cultivating self-compassion and letting go of perfectionism since perfectionism is almost always tied to impressing others, bringing about a sense that you're better than you really are. I need to go to church tomorrow because I believe God is still speaking and there will be a word for me. It might come from a child who embraces me or brings me a note. It might come from a first-time guest who tells me how welcome they felt. It might come from the scripture being read even though I've read it dozens of times this week. Or it might come when I bow my head and intercede on behalf of so many people who are hurting - those I know and those I don't know - people who know how complicated Father's Day can be, people who have lost a loved one and know the sting of grief, people who are experiencing an overwhelming medical diagnosis, people who are wondering what the future will hold, people who are longing to not feel so alone. It's only an hour or so, but it's an hour filled with moments, words, stories, songs, rituals and people I need.

Plus, the Washington Post will be waiting for me when I get home.

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