I opened the program to the first page and I was confronted with the following:
We’re here because we’re people who have heard a rumor that there’s life to be found on the other side of death.
We’re here because just the rumor is enough to bring us hope and just the hope is enough to bring us a moment of life.
We’re here because even though it is only a flicker, a moment, a breath, it’s changed our death forever. Welcome to Liturgy.
Everyone started singing a hymn that wasn’t in the book.
My companion for the day was another fellow traveler, a pastor on sabbatical from her congregation in Kentucky. I learned a trick when you’re a visitor or a newcomer — find other new people and make them feel welcome.
“You don’t know Let it Shine? It’s an old Black hymn. Didn’t the Jehovah’s Witnesses ever sing that?”
“No. They had their own hymns. Terrible stuff like From House to House, From Door to Door.”
I’ve said a lot of horrible things recently. I’ve failed to resist or speak out. Forgive me and help me to bring Justice on Earth.
During the quiet time I walked past a cubby where they offered “anointing and spiritual healing.” There was a woman in a blanket being embraced, sobbing with a twisted look on her face. God only knows what she’s going through but it was intense.
We returned to our seats and they read through the prayers anonymously submitted by the congregation.
People were lonely.
People were addicted.
People were grieving.
People were struggling with depression,
Someone left an abusive relationship and didn’t know where they were going.
Damn the darkness that makes me feel separated from God.
It was like a punch in the gut realizing that somewhere in this room someone was going through all these things and putting on their bravest face. Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone anymore.
I lost my shit and bawled.
They offered communion:
Child of God
The body of Christ
Broken for you
I wasn’t sure what you were supposed to say. I raised my wafer, giggled nervously, and said “Cheers.”
The communion volunteer busted out laughing.
It was everything I hoped it would be.
I had showed up feeling hopeless and dead inside. I have to figure out what I’m doing next but I don’t feel like it matters and I don’t really care what’s next.
Maybe I can put one foot in front of the other and do this one more time.
I tried going to an AA meeting afterwards.
The speaker droned on and on and on and on and on and on and on. I’m not saying his story wasn’t compelling, just that after 45 minutes I was squirming in my seat and I had to go.
I got back to the hotel and dug out those drink coupons.
I’ll take another two glasses of um… communion… please.
Just kidding. I wasn’t able to finish the first glass.