Published November 12, 2012 by Sandee

Maybe I’ll go to church.  I’ll have Sundays free again because my job ends in December. My family church is a Baptist church in Harlem.  We didn’t go often but when one of us died this is where the funeral would be.  My parents were married there.  It’s where I was christened and baptized.  I went once as a kid with my mom and a woman started hollering, “Yes Jee-susah!  Oh Jeeesus yessuh!”  She ran into the aisle, rolled on the floor and foamed at the mouth.  The church nurses grabbed her and calmed her down from the Holy Ghost.  This scared the shit out of me.  I started hyperventilating.  The service wasn’t full of people like this — thank God!

Nowadays the church discourages this.  Although at one recent service a woman got ‘happy’ and ran laps around the pews.  I laughed my ass off as did others.  But generally the services are more subdued.  The people wear jeans and the minister is intellectual and has a Ph.D.

My dad’s funeral was there and the minister back then appealed to reason.  He spoke in a conversational voice then built up slowly to a fervor.  This minister was why I wanted go again.  But then he died.

I volunteered there feeding the homeless for Thanksgiving once and had heard that the next minister was just as good.  I checked out a service and it was true so I started going regularly.  I was still drinking so a couple of times I was drunk from the night before, crying with my mascara all smeared.  Then I stopped drinking.

Sometimes I felt that the spiritual energy there could levitate the building.  Although ministers are human, I believe that some are vehicles for God and that it’s their job to transmit messages, even while they are flawed the way everyone else is.

At first I thought I’d use church as a placebo.  But basically, I felt that the collective energy all directed likewise would be an effective healing mechanism.  For me having a spiritual advisor works, otherwise I might hear God tell me to do things the way that a cult leader does because I’m demented.

While I appreciate that there are different ways people get in touch with their spirituality, this worked for me.  And I know organized religion has its ‘issues’.  Recently I talked to a man who had a personal spiritual advisor.

Church and praying doesn’t always have the immediate effect on me the way that liquor did.  It seeps slowly into my consciousness and informs some of my actions without me thinking about it.  I’ve even left church feeling fear and negativity. Sometimes having a spiritual session or praying just unearths some of the ugliness, which is later dispersed.  But it comes back.  I’m just glad to have a spiritual advisor as a counter-balance.  I may not go to church every Sunday, but it will be nice to be able to go back now and then when I want to.

35 comments on “Church

  • Often, when I’m praying at night time all the ugly and bad things that I’ve done, or have had done to me, come out and leave me wondering if IT will be okay. Every morning after I feel like IT is going to be okay.

    • I probably should pray more often — lately I do ‘fox hole’ prayers — whenever I get desperate. But I never prayer FOR things. Like the minister at the church says, God’s no cosmic Santa Claus. I just pray to be open to the energy that makes me receptive to a higher consciousness. A friend of mine tonight said he prays for understanding — I like that. Thanks for the feedback with your experience. It is helpful to me to hear it.

  • While I don’t attend a “church”, I attend the church of life.. I look around each day at the many miracles I see and ask the Universe to guide me on the path where I am meant to be. I have recently started meditating and must admit to feeling more open, less stressed. Everyone has their own path and for many church is their path, or it may be a temple, a mosque or a patch of grass in their backyard. The Creator is anywhere a open heart resides.

    • This is true. Church isn’t the end all be all. I don’t think you need it. I was going for a stretch and actually felt better stepping back for a bit. Because as I mentioned, organized religion does have issues. There’s also the risk of spiritual leaders succumbing to their egos and getting a little full of themselves. I haven’t been to church for three or more years. You’re right the creator is everywhere.

  • There is something soothing about churches, even if you aren’t a devout Christian. I’ve been a lapsed Catholic for years, but even now, sometimes I go into a Catholic church just to sit and be. Maybe it’s the quiet, or the atmosphere, or the energy of all the other people in there praying, but I find it soothing. Or, I start crying uncontrollably. One or the other. So I know what you mean. It draws things out somehow.

    • When you said ‘sit and be’ I thought about meditation. Catholic churches are so much quieter and you can just go in alone and pray which is cool. I went to a Catholic funeral up here once and was really impressed by the minister — he was so real. I thought maybe I should drop in there one of these days. A friend of mine goes to a different church every Sunday.

    • Yes I agree, there is something about Churches, God’s presence in people both good and bad. It doesn’t matter that sometimes His presence is not acknowledged or that people have strayed, He is always there. There are still good Christians in the Church and their presence and God’s is that which brings silent comfort and the desire to be there. That is why if you go to Church with a heart that is seeking God, you find answers, even that leader who is lost may preach a very good message tailor-made just for you.

      • Thanks so much for your comment! It also helped me to revisit this post — it made me laugh! I still appreciate what I was trying to communicate. And I especially agree with your comment. Your last sentence resonates. I agree that being open or having a heart that is seeking God, as you say, allows you to hear something you may not otherwise have been able to hear.

  • I love what you wrote Sandee – it echoed many of my experiences. My Mom said the Evangelists in the 1930’s who screamed at the little girls in church that their desire for a ‘dolly or a dress’ was sinful and hell-bent, scared the shit out of her! She and my father were very relaxed about religion. I took a friend of mine who is a lapsed Catholic to an Episcopal Church a number of times when we were both struggling, and he liked the “light Catholic” lack of doctrine and acceptance of all people” but even more he found tranquility. Our friend’s Memorial was surprisingly religious and I found it not only moving but comforting. Even though there is so much stuff I don’t believe (and can’t stomach), sometimes just going through the ritual that people have made for thousands of years is really helpful to me. Loved the comments to this great post too!!!

    • Thanks Annie. Unfortunately I had to work the night of the memorial. I did get your message. I appreciate you letting me know.

      I’m looking forward to going back to church. I probably won’t go every weekend but we’ll see. Maybe you can come with me one Sunday.

  • I know you had to work. There were many people there so don’t feel badly. If our friend wasn’t at peace before he sure was by the end of the service. It was beautiful and music by Dale and Margaret were fantastic. Yeah, maybe we should go to church some Sunday!
    I remember when I went more, things in my life were better but of course, that could be a figment of my imagination.

  • Great post, Sandee. Sorry I’m getting to it late.
    I try to go to church as often as I can. It seems like the times that I really have to push myself are the times when the message is something important that I needed to hear. Then I’m happy I made the effort. I think feeling connected to God through prayer is always a good thing. It’s something you can do anytime or place. In my church we often refer to God as Heavenly Father. For me, the idea that we are all His children and that He likes to hear from us while we’re away from home, makes sense. It’s like any parent telling their kids to check in from time to time.
    Since I have a really bad earthly father, I like to consider God my real father. He gives me everything that my dad didn’t. Namely, unconditional love.
    I think where ever people gather to pray and worship God is always going to be a place that is soothing and uplifting to our soul. 🙂

    • I appreciate hearing about your relationship and experience with God and with prayer. It took me years to find a personal relationship with God. Initially I thought that God would help me get what I wanted and would in fact be like that Cosmic Santa Claus that the minister in my church described. Now all I ask is to have some relative understanding and peace in situations that would be normally distressful. I also just want to stay in the moment. I don’t know the Bible too well but I think there’s something in there about today being all we have. When I look at life that way, I realize that I have been taken care of and that I have everything I need. Thanks Lisa — I was really glad to read your comment.

      • Aww… Sandee. I think you speak and feel from such a pure place. I really feel what’s in your heart. I can only imagine how pleased our Father in Heaven is with you. I pray for the same sense of peace and understanding that you do. I also pray to know what His will is in my life – I know I’ve taken a lot of missteps and wrong turns – I wish I had checked in when I was making big decisions in my life. Oh well. Live and learn. The one thing I do know, I feel it in my heart, is that God’s love for us is beyond our comprehension. 🙂

        • Now the trick for me in believing that God’s love for me is beyond comprehension is to get over the hurdle of what I think God should do for me — hehehe…I’m working on it. I have a friend who is a mentor in these spiritual matters. She helps me to pray, like you do, to know what His will is for my life.

          I think a problem people have is thinking that death is a bad thing and that if there’s a God why do our loved ones die in tragedy, or why am I sick since I’m praying to God everyday. When my dad died I thought, ‘this must not be a bad thing, if he did it’. That thought actually did come into my head when he died. Also with tragedy — I’ve been blessed to have people who have illustrated that God is still in their lives after tragedy.

          Some people are quick to deny there’s a God after these things happen. I wonder how much of that is a self-centeredness. I wonder if I could hold on to God if something really really bad happened…

          • I totally think you can. I think there’s a scripture that says something about (hold on I’m googling it…) In Isaiah 55:8 it says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, says the Lord.” So I think if we have faith that God Loves us and knows every hair on our head (another scripture) that he also knows what’s best for us. We may see tragedy but He sees and knows something differently. I think that’s the mistake we make – trying to understand God with our puny limited mortal minds. In this case I think having faith in His love for us is the key.
            I’m not afraid of death in the least. I know that we’re all returning home and that what lies beyond this life is glorious. This life, in terms of eternity, is the blink of an eye. People put too much emphasis in this life and not the one after. When we pass through the veil we’ll be greeted by our loved ones who were just on the other side rooting for us. Pure love.
            Recently when Steve Jobs died, his family happily reported, that as he took his last breaths, he repeated three times, “Oh, wow! Oh, wow! Oh, wow!” That sounds pretty good to me! haha!

  • While my thoughts go willy nilly in my miniscule brain and limited perception, I think at the back of it there is faith. You remind me that it’s kind of not cool to be holding on so tightly to this life and everything in it. I also thought of what scientists say, that energy doesn’t die. Where does it go. Is it transformed? My cousin describes his brother’s death as a transformation. Maybe we transform and then merge. But I’m told I shouldn’t over think these things — that’s what ruins life for a lot of us I think. I’m glad we had this conversation. It’s going to help my path. Good talking to you Lisa!

  • I’m going to make a comment that might sound kind of racist, so I hope you know I’m about as far from racist as a person can get. But there is no church that believes and prays harder than a black Baptist church. I am generally turned off by churches and their often repressive doctrines (although the ritual of the Catholic church really appeals to me), but I’ve always thought that if I was going to ever “believe” in the sense of a Christian church, it would be during a service at a black Baptist church. The sermons and the music lift you out of the world in a way not many other things do. And I have always found God in music, so the hymns and gospel are a balm.

    Generally, though, I meditate and pray on my own. I don’t meditate nearly often enough, because I find it so difficult to quiet my mind. The closest I’ve ever come to actually shutting my brain off long enough to get to some kind of peace is while staring at a Mark Rothko painting. I still don’t know how he did what he did.

  • Oh please Mary, that’s not racist at all. Because it’s true — hahaha! At least the black Baptist church prays the loudest! It’s funny you mention music in the Baptist church. I don’t know what the hell happened to the choir in the church I was going to — Convent Ave. Baptist Church — but the music isn’t what we all think of when we think of black church music. Kind of disappointing. Every once in a while they have the classic gospel but generally it’s operatic and not soulful at all. There are quite a few white visitors, tourists and there are white members — I’ll bet they’re disappointed too. But then again I wonder if this is why the music isn’t as ‘black’. Maybe they’re trying for broader appeal?

    Meditation is a great way to get in touch with God and a higher consciousness. I was told that the relationship people have with God should be personal. Getting peace while staring at a Mark Rothko painting sounds like a fine way to meditate.

    • That’s kind of disappointing about the music. I love me some good gospel. I’m really old school with the hymns I do really like. “Amazing Grace” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” are probably my favorites.

      • Yes, very disappointing, especially if one came a ways to hear some good old fashioned gospel music. Convent Avenue Church, for as good as it is, has music that puts me to sleep for the most part. The minister’s wife can tear it up though. One of the few times I heard good gospel music there was when she was singing — wow! She was powerful.

        Hehehehe.. I was just thinking — I’ve heard white choirs that sound blacker than Convent Baptist Church’s choir 🙂

  • ” I went once as a kid with my mom and a woman started hollering, “Yes Jee-susah! Oh Jeeesus yessuh!” She ran into the aisle, rolled on the floor and foamed at the mouth. The church nurses grabbed her and calmed her down from the Holy Ghost. This scared the shit out of me.” ~ I remember the first time this happened to me. I was raised Southern Baptist but my church wasn’t the holy-rolling kind. Went to a friend’s church up the mountain and this woman must’ve been 80 and I seriously thought she was going to have a heart attack and die. Haven’t been to church in ages, just kinda do my own thing but it would be nice to revisit. Thanks for stopping by my site btw!

    • I’m looking forward to reading your posts because I’m a huge grade B horror movie fan — Children shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, Carnival of Souls — a couple of my favorites.

      Church isn’t for everyone. And I don’t think it’s necessary. I know a few evil people who go to church — hahaha! People possessed by the Holy Ghost scare me and I wonder if it’s just some kind of hysterical manifestation…

      • Sweet!! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the B movies! I’m (obviously) a huge fan of them, lol. Between that, your thoughts on church and drinking, I think we’re gonna get along swell. 🙂

        I have wondered that about hysterical manifestation. I read a fascinating book on snake handlers in my region once – so many things happening that I can’t necessarily make sense of so I kinda of take what I need and make my own way, ya know?

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