I didn’t feel as guilty as I thought I would. After all, I wasn’t cheating on my spouse equivalent. I wasn’t being dishonest with the information I gave to my tax accountant. I wasn’t informing the choir director I couldn’t attend a rehearsal because I was ill, when I was really living it up and dancing the night away.
Yet, for the first time in thirty-seven years I’d gone to another church instead of the one where I’m a member.
There are many people who don’t regularly attend their church, but my presence in mine has been consistent over the years. I sing in the choirs, and so usually must be present every weekend.
This Sunday was different. The Teen Choir was performing, and while I would have enjoyed hearing them, I wanted a break – a change – even more.
So I tootled up the line, as my father would say, to the Congregational Church in the next town. I immediately saw familiar faces, people who welcomed me with their warm smiles.
The format of the service was familiar and while the theology wasn’t completely in line with mine, the goodness of intent from all who participated in the service swirled around me. I felt encircled by decent people who care about their church, their family and social justice. I was at ease.
Afterwards, as I drove out of the parking lot, I reflected on how my attitude towards this semi-rural town had been transformed.
Many years earlier I had returned to Connecticut as a single adult. During the first year, when my daughter and I lived with my parents, I imagined everyone was happily married, and a Republican.
Today, as one of the older people sitting in the pews, I was aware how dramatically my perspective had changed. I observed each person individually, rather than collectively. I didn’t consider marital status or political affiliation.
I now recognize that every person has challenges that are difficult, experiences grief and loss as well as success and delight in life. No one is immune. When I was young, I thought otherwise; that I was the only one with difficulties and fears about the future.
This little trip, outside the customary, the comfortable, gave me more than I anticipated. Not only will I be back to this Congregational Church another time, but also I’ll be ready to sing next Sunday at my own church. There have been so many people who have been there for me in times both good and bad. That alone is enough to keep me settled in my choir seat, while still sensing the strengths, welcome and kindness from this morning’s congregation.