Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Clothespins and Incense


Last Sunday our minister who is very fond of interactive sermons gave the congregation questionnaires. They were to determine what style of worship fits you best. There were four styles based upon your answers: the traditionalist who likes the order and discipline of traditional worship; the activist who doesn't want to sit through a service but wants to get out there and DO something; and two other types of worshipers. During the sermon he had us stand up when he called out our category. Shockingly enough, out of the entire congregation only the Bear and I stood up when he called out "Mystic".

Mystic? What like Gandolf and Merlin and Rasputin? No? Well, I'm having visions of Mysts of Avalon, the mystical magical Nanny & the Professor and Mystic Pizza (Hey, I skipped breakfast) and I just don't get it. Apparently, we are more into the spiritual aspects then the structure or educational or community aspects of churchgoing. That's not so bad, I suppose although I'd much rather be one of those Action Jackson guys who man the soup kitchens and start community outreach programs that help thousands of people. It's a shame I'm too lazy for that. But I digress...
As we're lined up to say goodbye, the minister pops off with "Being a cradle Episcopalian I expected you'd be into chanting and incense". Um, no. Chanting gives me a headache and incense makes me sneeze. I think what tipped me into the mystic category is that I like quiet. Somewhere back in Sunday school I was told ''Praying is Talking to God. Meditation is Listening to God." I'd have to say that I think I need to hear what God has to say more than God needs to hear me rattle on. For me church has always been a sanctuary, a place to clear my head and fill my heart. I can't remember a time before I sought refuge in the quiet corners of a chapel to find calm, solace and peace.
Our present church does not have a meditation chapel. It has two education wings, three meeting halls, a state of the art commercial kitchen and two coffee bars, but no cool, dark quiet space to just commune quietly with The Spirit. During Lent, the then Minister of Music (now gone) attempted a series of Taize Services in the Bride's Room/Crying Baby Room. About forty curious souls came the first week and at the end there were only five of us who were comfortable (or tried to be) with the silence between readings. I guess I don't fit in with the mainstream. Before that silly questionaire, I'd never noticed. The thought makes me a little sad. Have I given up "Listening to God"?
No. I meditate in the warm sudsy water of my my dishes. I meditate in the precise, repetitive strokes of my iron. When I fold laundry in the stillness of my home after everyone has gone to bed, when I snugggle with my daughter stroking her hair while she breathes quietly in her sleep, when I ride in the car with my husband holding his hand as he concentrates on the road I am listening to God. There's nothing mystical about it. It's just living in the moment and letting grace come in the quiet.