For most, going to church on Sundays is a choice that is made each week. People go for all sorts of reasons. The reasons determine what church they go to and what happens at that church. When I met Wil, I did not actively go to church. I had wondered out into the woods of Appalachian State’s campus with a Bible now and then flipping to a passage, trying to make sense of what I had read. I had felt and thanked God many times after a hike with Sylus to the top of the viaduct trail off the Parkway. Falling in love with someone allows a person to join in each others beliefs. Ultimately, I started going to St. Luke’s, Asheville with Wil and I didn’t really like it at first. The ritual, the standing, sitting, kneeling then standing thing, and what I referred to as “costumes” that the people in the front wore. It was such a far cry from my nature. It was important though and I knew it was so I kept going. We moved and changed churches and eventually ended up at Sewanee where I learned why we knelt or stood at certain parts and what those “costumes” were actually called and why they changed colors every so often. Stranger then that, I started to enjoy the ritual of it. It became so familiar and comforting and I could either tune in and think about the words or tune out and just be in that holy space, with others who were there too.
When Wil got the call as assistant at The Church of the Good Shepherd on Lookout Mountain, I was excited for him to take that next step and I was excited for Lilly and I to meet new friends and explore new ground. Today, a lot of those same feelings found me again. Today was our first Sunday morning at Holy Cross Faith Memorial at Pawleys Island. Today we met our new church family nestled within the old familiar liturgy of being Episcopal.
Three days prior to today, my folks trucked it North and I began a pity party for one. All logic leaves me when I feel like that: lonely, depressed, unsure of myself. I hate being in that place emotionally and on Saturday morning, I found my way out of that dark place and watched as Wil prepared mentally for Sunday. If there had been even the slightest bit of grey cloud following me, the people of HCFM brought the sunshine and the rainbows! Willow, Lilly and I got there early because I had no idea where to take them for children’s church or where I should sit. Beth Monroe and a herd of kids met us near the car and we followed them to the parish hall where Lilly and Willow were happily distracted by older kids and the promise of a story and a craft. I then could make my way to the sanctuary which is so bright and inviting. I sat next to the Quigley’s who have been a source of first friendship these past weeks and the service began after a few hellos and updates about how we were all doing.
When the organ started, my chest filled and I am sure I looked proud as the precession with little kid acolytes, diversified choir and Father Wil as head rector made it to their rightful places. The sermon was solid, the music was amazing, the crowd was all smiles and God was there in that place.
Out the windows, I could see the parade of children making their way across the campus of trees decorated with Spanish moss ready to join the adults in communion. Lilly holding the hand of another child with her pink boots while Willow happily hitched a ride on the hip of Beth, the sight made me so happy. They had already made themselves at home.
After the service, the introductions were made, the cake was eaten, and so much excitement for our arrival hung in the air. It was a great day. It was great cake. It is a great community where so much can be done to heal, to help, to come together with love. To be Episcopalian means more to me now then ever before and I’m proud of my new church and happy to have that old familiar feeling.