Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - One tiny step toward faith

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." ~ Matthew 18:20

I stopped going to church a long time ago. I felt let down by organized religion, constrained and burdened by being called a sinner no matter how good I was. I found faith on my yoga mat, in nature, in people - no church-going required. Lately, I've felt the need to find a place where I can go to be only with my spirituality, to feel that I am close to something divine, a place big enough to store my troubles while I sort them out.

Tonight, I stopped by the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine because it's beautiful and I like the way the choir sounds. I went to the 4:00 Evensong. They didn't sound quite as good as they did during their rehearsal last week, though I still felt some kind of comfort being there with other people who were also there to listen to the music. I was able to pray and ask for help and strength for the coming week, and felt lighter when I left than when I entered.

Just outside the cathedral, the white peacock that lives on the grounds was strutting around the church green. I had previously only seen him from a distance. He's beautiful, with a long, flowing tail, and a crown of slight feathers. I whistled a very soft whistle, and to my surprise he came running toward me.

A woman next to me, looking at the peacock, asked, "?Como se dice en ingles?"

I speak a tiny bit of Spanish and replied, "peacock."

"!cómo extraño! En español, decimos pavo." (How weird. In Spanish, we say "pavo".)

I nodded, not knowing what else to say and a little embarrassed by my very limited Spanish vocabulary (which ironically I was working on just a few hours prior to my visit to the Cathedral.)

She continued, "Que la iglesia no es hermosa? Es como en el cielo existe." (Isn't the church beautiful? It's like Heaven in there.)

I agreed with her, "Sí. Es como el cielo."

I wondered how she knew what Heaven looked like. She seemed a little kooky and I was reminded of that show Touched by an Angel that I used to watch with my mom when I was a kid. The woman smiled and left me alone with the peacock.

I don't know if this is the start of a new chapter of faith for me. I do know that it was nice to be in the presence of something larger than my own existence for a while, a place that gave me a small glimpse of what Heaven might be like.

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