September 23, 2007

“This post from a year ago August is one of my favorites, as it tries to describe the feelings I have about life in the Church and my bittersweet experiences with it.”
The Great White Shank

————————–

A confession right up front: I love the Church and the feeling that comes with going to church, even though my relationship with it has seen its fair share of turbulance and trouble over the years.

I’m not talking here about the Church as a single entity or congregation or parish. And I’m not talking Protestant or Catholic, either: Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Orthodox, or Roman Catholic, over the years I’ve attended and preached in enough parishes to more than get the gist of just about everything and anything each stands for in its own history, theology, and worship traditions.

So many times I’ve walked into a church – it doesn’t matter what denomination or whether I’m a member or not – and immediately felt God’s presence surround and envelop my senses. Sometimes its from something as simple as the architecture or light through stained glass; other times it’s a kind of “sixth sense” radiating through the building’s history (good and bad), traditions, or simply the way God feels present there. I’ve often thought about trying to put into exact words how and why this happens, but I guess that’s why the Church has its mystics like Julian of Norwich and St. John of the Cross to put into words the longing and completeness one’s soul can experience whenever present in the house and worship of the Lord.

But this doesn’t mean checking your brain at the door and seeing the Church through rose-colored glasses. Quite the contrary.

Thirteen years ago, God called me to be a priest in his Church, a calling that led me to journeys and places I could never have believed possible. Unfortunately, whether through some fault of my own or the Church’s own fallible internal workings, things didn’t work out too well and the calling was shelved. And I’ll admit it: the Church’s rejection is one I still feel keenly. Yet, over time, I’ve come to realize that in these kinds of things there’s no one to blame – you just have to learn to accept it and find a way to move on. One of my favorite contemporary writers, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, has written about this very thing – that people often seem to expect the fallible human beings and institutions in their lives to be, well, not human at all rather than accepting and coping with their imperfections.

This past Saturday, I had been listening to some classic, summertime Beach Boys music prior to attending Mass at St. Anne Catholic Church. After taking my place in a pew, I found myself contemplating the journey that had brought me there, and suddenly the very same words I had heard Brian Wilson sing to a lover in his song “Please Let Me Wonder” just minutes earlier found their own special relevance and poignancy within my own heart. For him, they communicated the longing and desire he felt in a physical sense to a lover; to me, it communicated everything I felt in my heart and soul to the Church:

Now here we are together
This would’ve been worth waiting forever
I always knew it’d feel this way
And please forgive my shaking
Can’t you tell my heart is breaking?
Can’t make myself say what I planned to say

Baby, please let me wonder
(If I’ve been the one you love)
Please let me wonder
(If I’m who you’re dreaming of)
Please let me wonder, love

I built all my goals around you
That some day my love would surround you
You’ll never know what we’ve been through
For so long I thought about it
And now I just can’t live without it
This beautiful image I have of you

Baby, please let me wonder
(If I’ve been the one you love)
Please let me wonder
(If I’m who you’re dreaming of)
Please let me wonder, love

Wilson’s lyrics express the tension that exists between the sensual and actual, and the dream of a “beautiful image” that may or may not exist in reality. Nevertheless, love is the mystery and the motivation, and it is the very mystery and motivation of God’s love and presence that I find at the core of my own longing and desire for intimacy with God through His Church. This is not to say that the Church is only means by which one can experience God’s presence, but it is the only place where God can be experienced both physically and symbolically through the sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood.

To those who have suffered hurt, disenchantment, or disillusionment with the Church due to its many failings, I can only say that while it may be imperfect, the One it serves and seeks to emulate (no matter how much it might fall short in that regard) – is perfect, and revealed in the wonder and majesty of God’s boundless love for us all. Because we know ourselves, our failings, and our faults all to well, we might ask how such a love is possible, yet it is in that very question where the true wonder lies.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:22 | Comments (0)
No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment


goodboys.jpg


Search The Site



Recent Items

Categories

Archives
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006


Blogroll

Syndication

4 Goodboys Only

Site Info