Day 112: Church

March 4th 2016

I am not a theist, and I am not a christian, but in an odd turn of events today I went to church.

st mary's.jpg

It was very surreal

Perhaps I’m just a cynic in thinking that it’s impossible for people of all races and nationalities to come together in a sense of complete spiritual unity, I’ve certainly never felt that way and today hasn’t changed that. Thanks to the unity displayed by three people today though, I’m beginning to believe that it might not be such an impossibility after all.

This rather odd experience for me started much like any day, waking up early and dragging myself out of bed, I was already loathed to be awake at such an early hour but was equally as perturbed to know that today I would attempt to go to church.

inside st mary's
Inside the church.

Before I go on however, you must understand that I did not go to the church in order to praise a deity, nor did I go there for redemption or to experience what a church service was like, in fact I went there to offer my services, to ask whether there was any way in which I could volunteer services and help the parishioners- oddly enough this didn’t happen.

I fully intended to offer my services but as the service went on and I began to notice the diverse range of faces around me, and it got me thinking. I thought about how each and every person in the pews came to, as they put it, “Know Jesus”. I spoke with a lady of Chinese descent and a gentleman from central Africa, they were terribly different from one another but seemed united in their love of their god.

It was beautiful, really.

What really struck me was how accepting everyone was of me being there, observing their worship, something that, in my eyes, is a very personal thing and not something that I would care to share, were that I had any faith. They were so candid, didn’t single me out and just continued as always, a modest display of spiritual honesty that really resonated with me; they were so understanding of my inquisitive nature.

It wasn’t in fact until after they’d finished their prayers that the real revelations began to hit me (and no, that’s not an intentional pun). I was invited for coffee after the service and then, past that to what they called “Late Discussion” where they talked over world affairs and discussed psalms. I should count myself lucky that today they were discussing the famous psalm 23 which reads as follows.

The Lord is my shepherd; therefore can I lack nothing

He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.

He shall refresh my soul and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.

You spread the table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full.

Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

It’s a hugely famous psalm and is very common at funerals to remind people of their own mortality and the way that god influences their lives while they still endure. We talked about what it meant to each of us, and to me, someone who isn’t a god fearing individual, it’s about courage and the ability to stand, steadfast in the face of sheer adversity- a psalm about moral character and seeing the bright side of life.

A lot of reflection took place today, judging my character and how I’m behaving in every day life; I suppose I’m doing alright, I just want to do more, but for now, that’s all.

Goodbye and goodnight everyone.

 

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