Friday, November 26, 2010

Advent 1.2 - The House of the Lord

"I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord."

~Psalm 122:1

It can be challenging at best, impossible at worst, to return to one's house of worship when times are dark.

The Psalmist is referring to Jerusalem, God's holy city, God's mountaintop city crowned by God's temple. We Christians tend to read ~ and sing ~ the same line in reference to our churches. Those for whom church is not a part of their lives ~ perhaps the same music and words apply to the Redwood Forest, or the Matterhorn? I can think of a place in Glacier National Park in which I have backpacked and camped that seems to me to be the house of the Lord:

In any case, for some of us these are precisely where we want to go in times of darkness, and for others, the memories associated with previous experience, or the cheerful presence glowing throughout, moves them out of reach, at least for a season of life.

Some of us, sometimes, need to find fresh alternatives.

From my present vantage point, I would say that we should not give up. I found, in the darkest times two Advent seasons ago, that there were churches other than my own, and places in this wide and beautiful world other than those well known to me, to which I could repair for something resembling sustenance. Churches more hushed than mine, congregations where no one knew me. Beaches and hilltops which I had never before approached.

And now I find that I can return to my own church, and to places in nature that have been important to our family. I find that, not having rushed or pushed myself, I am glad to do so.

How are you doing, with the places in which God was once most present to you?

Image: Josh Gerritsen photo


Katie said...

Thank you for your post. I have experienced this very difficulty myself and am currently sheltering in another church where no one knows me. Some people who have not experienced this exile-like time are hard pressed to believe that it's real and that it's not necessarily chosen. While I have been through other dark times that made it very difficult to stay, stay I did. This is my first Advent and Christmas away from home, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Gaye said...

I went back to Mass today amongst my usual congregation for the first time since my dad died in September. I have retreated to the shade of the tree at the top of my garden in between. People, even strangers, being to hard to bear.

Not long enough away, wasn't ready for it but it is Advent. The new year and I needed the rhythm and comfort of the Liturgy. It did as it always does, giving visibility to the Silent God.

Daisy said...

Yesterday, I had an overwhelming feeling of homesickness for my childhood church. Obviously, it wasn't the building itself that I missed, which is a good thing as it was torn down 18 years ago and plenty of not good stuff happened in that community, but rather it was the nostalgia of feeling like I was in God's house. Strangely, I felt weepy. Course, we could blame it on menopause, I suppose...

I suspect that the repetitiveness of work and life of late has got me longing for some connecting that is sorely lacking. A replenishing, a dipping in the well....