I grew up on church property.
The house I lived in for the first 10 years of my life was on the same large lot as the church building where my father was a minister. Every time I stepped outside, the church was right in front of me. The church and all that it was the symbol of affected me profoundly. Ours was the only church in the community where we lived, so it was symbolic in the community as well - the place of sacrament, the place of God, the place of right and wrong.
My favourite aspect of the church property on which I lived was the sense of community that surrounded it. There were always people coming and going. There was always an activity to observe or be part of. We had great New Years gatherings and events throughout the year.
As I write this, I am listening to the bells of the Abby ringing above me in MIssion. We also had a church bell and I would stand by the man who would ring it on Sunday mornings and watch and listen.
The church also carried with it many aspects that I've needed to let go of. There was an invisible line that you could not cross, and perhaps it was especially so being the pastor's daughter. There were many parts of me that felt stunted in growth, too afraid to explore and discover who I really am...almost afraid of my own humanity, because it didn't fit in with the program.
Later in life, I discovered how becoming fully human is the most spiritual task I can have. To be truly alive - to be all I've been created to be.....
I am not in a church today and it is 10:00 on Sunday morning. Sometimes I do go and am connected with wonderful relationships in two different communities.
However, if you asked me what church I really love, my real answer would be this:
I belong to the church of the woods.
and what a journey this has been.
a while ago, a priest asked me how I felt about the Sacraments of the church- and living a sacramental life. I pondered this a lot - and wondered if I had the courage to answer honestly. But eventually I did, because if I don't speak my truth now, when will I ever speak?
And this is what I said:
As I walk in the woods, I touch Presence.
As I gaze at the sky, as I take in the beauty of the mountains, as I watch the eagle over me,
I am filled with wonder.
As I touch the fresh moss growing on the dead tree trunk, as I hold the birch bark in my hands,
as I feel the sun shining on my face, tears fall from my eyes from the sheer beauty of it all.
As I step on old leaves under my feet, as I run my hands along the trunk of a Maple, as I take in the beauty of the the ferns growing around the shiny cliff rocks wet from all the rain,
I am connected to my Creator.
This is my bread.
This is my wine.
In the woods, I am taught so many lessons - lessons about letting go, death, rebirth, beauty, being.
In the woods, I am invited into true authenticity and inner freedom
There is no shame here - but an invitation to be fully alive and to be part of Creation in the most loving and beautiful way that I can.
There is refreshment here and food for the soul.
To this church, I go almost every day.
And I cherish each moment.