TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — I had an interesting conversation with someone who grew up a forced Catholic. He said something about church — specifically flipping through the Book of Common Prayer — being spiritually lacking. I agreed immediately, which seemed to surprise him. And, in retrospect, I guess it is a strange thing for a churchy person to say.
But it’s perfectly true — I generally find more spirituality in vacuuming out the church on Friday than I do on any given Sunday, when there’s my tuba to wrangle and hymns to sing and scriptures to read and voluntaries to play and a bulletin to inspect for typos (you’d think someone with a terminal degree in writing and a few years of teaching English 101 would’ve learned to do so by now) and people to meet and greet, not to mention a porcupine running around.
No, church on Sunday is not, for me, a place of great spiritual enrichment; rather, it is precisely those distractions that draw me to church.
At least at St. Nicholas, church on Sunday is a place where all are welcomed with open arms. It is a place where people are happy to see me for me and will help me with my baggage, not scorn me for it. It is a place with a diverse community driven to collectively uplift their disparate worlds. It is where I can put down baggage I carry on behalf of others and embrace them as people, not as what they’ve been or done. Shoot, even my mom is simply another of the crowd of wonderful women nearing retirement who laugh and chatter like chickadees (or chipmunks, if it’s a potluck and wine has been flowing).
So no, I don’t go to church for spirituality. Sure, I get guidance for finding it during the week, when I’m out living my life and experiencing God’s playground up here, and I’ve certainly had some transcendent moments in church, but those are few and far between. It is precisely because of the quiet times between spiritual eruptions that I go to church: here is an empowering and uplifting group warmly embracing me — me! the lapsed-pagan Buddhist! — and looking to do the same for others while throwing some fantastic potlucks in between. Who wouldn’t want that?
Russell Richardson, MM, MFA, St. Nick’s (Tahoe City) tuba player and publicist, visit www.stnicksepiscopal.org. St. Nicholas Episcopal Church and is free and open to all. Location, 855 West Lake Blvd, Tahoe City.