Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ring my bell

I cried in church today. It was one of the best church services I have ever attended. Everything about it seemed to blend naturally. It was pure and unforced. I will admit that I have an innate distrust toward "loving church." Church as in the building, the institution, the service- not the community of people. I have seen the flaws and the inconsistencies and the hypocrisy that inevitably come with humanness and our attempt to create something sacred. Today was different. Jacob's Well tends to get things right. It is the only church I have ever attended that challenges me intellectually and spiritually. I am astounded week in and week out at the depth of honest passion and activisim that arises from our community at JW.

As we walked into the sanctuary, we were handed bells to ring during the service. The sermon was about rejoicing. We were told to ring the bells when we felt moved to do it. Instead of using the "Evangelical gutteral sounds" we rang bells. We were outwardly expressing out agreement and gladness to our community. And it may sound strange, but it was absolutely beautiful. The sound of those bells throughout the service was radiant.

I have experienced holiness on numerous occasions. Each time unique, haunting and unexpected. Always pure and beautiful. Today I witnessed one of those moments. As seven or eight children walked toward to front of the church with the intent of lighting candles for the Advent season, something in the room changed. The adults were hushed. No sound came from our mouths; we all waited in a sense of anticipation for something great, although we had no way of knowing what was to come. As the candles were lit, the children, babies and toddlers began to speak and sing and shout. Babies cried and giggled and screamed. Toddlers pointed and got on their parents laps to see the candles. The toddler next to me kept yelling "fire! lights!" They were all ringing their bells. No one told them to stop or to be quiet. No one cared about etiquette. We all sat and witnessed something beyond ourselves. They were praising God and communicating in a way that we do not understand. They rang the bells in unison, they cried and smiled and sang. It was one of those make-you-shiver-and-tear-up moments. It was sacred in the deepest definition of the word. It was holy and it was incredible.

And now I have to leave this community, in search of another one. In search of people who want to lend their talents and passions to fulfill their purposes. And it is going to be hard to find them. They are few and far between, but refreshing when discovered. So I will mourn the temporary loss of this community because it is alright to cry. I will accept my fears and doubts and dread, and I will replace them with a knowledge that adventures require much of me. They are times of struggle and sacrfice. They ask me to become less introverted and more bold. They push me and stretch me and plead for me to learn and grow. I will go to Central America with the satisfaction that I am not losing relationships or communities, but adding them.

But really, I am mostly sad.

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