I had more free time than usual this weekend, the weather was a bit miserable and honestly, so was I. So I went to church.
No surprise that when I think about church, this is the first thing that comes to mind. The last time I’d been was six years ago in Glasgow, while I was studying abroad. And that visit was motivated more by the fact I was stalking Stuart Murdoch, who happens to be a regular choir member when he’s not touring. But let’s not get carried away by the best day of my life…
Yesterday I was angsty, groggy and wet. Certainly not in my Sunday best. Though Atheist, I believe in the healing powers of church, if you go in with the right mindset. As a novice, it’s rare to find myself in a beautiful room with strangers, listen to a choir and see so much tradition and ritual unfold. Almost everything we do nowadays is different than even ten years ago, but church has stayed constant since the beginning. (If you don’t count the announcement they now make to turn off your phone.)
The church I chose wasn’t my first choice–there are about six near me and I’d originally discounted it because it was a little too blingin’. I wanted something humbler. But it was also the only one with a noon service.
It also turned out to be Catholic, which I have very little experience in. My parents used to take me to Christian church all the time. First as a way to mingle and network with other Chinese people. Later, so they could take free English classes while I went to Sunday school and got free coffee, donuts and Biblical crossword puzzles. Church, as I knew it, was awesome. After class, everyone was encouraged to attend the actual service, but my parents usually hightailed it home. We stopped going once we moved far into the suburbs, but when people asked if I went to church, it was still nice to be able to say, “No, but I used to!” It got them off my back.
Yesterday’s sermon was very dry, and one of the priests said everything in a singsong voice. I don’t know if that’s normal, but I’m sure I’ll be hearing it again in my nightmares. My favorite part was when he signaled for everyone to shake hands and say “Nice to meet you.” Totally caught me off guard. Since I was already people watching out of boredom most of the time, it was nice to acknowledge my neighbors at that point. (Google tells me this is a “peace exchange”) Though I left feeling no more peaceful or inspired than I came in, it didn’t hurt to sit in a pretty place and zone out for an hour. I have a feeling there are more churches in my future Sundays.