Barbara Brown Taylor, in her 2006 book Leaving Church, wrote about her need to leave church in order to maintain a relationship with God, after a 20 year career of working in the Episcopal Church as a priest.
I recently stopped going to church as well, after a 20 year career as a church musician that never really seemed so much a career as a way of life. I also can see the wisdom of leaving church in order to nurture a relationship with God, as awful as that initially sounds to someone who has grown up, raised a family, matured and planned to retire from a life in the church.
On my first Sunday after leaving church there was a snowstorm which happily made a decision about going to another church completely unnecessary. Of course my husband and I wouldn’t be going anywhere that morning, but he gingerly asked, knowing my wounds were still raw, if we could have “home church.” I painfully nodded yes, seeing that it was important to him that we do this, and he created a brief liturgy of words that began with the Collect for Purity.
I must have heard this prayer thousands of times over the course of my life, but he read the familiar words in a way that made them completely new to me. I became aware of the words, which begin each celebration of the Eucharist, as something I was truly hearing for the first time.
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hid
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Each word of the Collect for Purity promises the comfort of an embracing love that at the same time understands and forgives and expects more of us. These are thoughts that feel like good companions during a time of leaving church, of healing, and of moving into new days that require new ways of thinking and being.
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This blog is a new venture for me, after 8 years of writing for another forum. It’s an attempt to continue putting thoughts together on various things that seem to connect, at least in my mind. I believe that more often than not new ideas first involve reaching back to what was and I can only hope that the prehistoric San cave painting at the top of this posting inspires all kinds of connections between old and new.
Also new is what I’ll be doing this weekend, February 27 and 28 – playing Spanish music for keyboard and electric guitar with the Furia Flamenca Dance Company as part of the Intersections Festival at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Several firsts for me right there in this melding of a dance tradition that has roots in the 18th century with instruments of this century. This Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 6:00 pm. (Atlas ArtsCenter)
Or join me at St. Columba Episcopal Church on Sunday, March 6 when French harpist Isabelle Frouvelle and I will be playing the prelude to their 11:15 service and playing again that same day as part of their 2:00 concert, Organ Plus for organ and various instruments. (St. Columba)
Feel free to pass this message along to anyone who might be interested, and if a community conversation comes out of it, all the better. We have so much to share and so much to be grateful for.