Being sad led me to church last week for the first time in over twenty years. I was not looking for a higher power or searching for meaning in a tragic loss, I was looking for community. Not necessarily people to talk to, but I wanted to be around people who knew my friend and perhaps hear him spoken of. So I went to his church, and I took babywhumpus with me.
We got gussied up, perhaps not as fancy-like as I would have when I still went to church, and people dressed in their Sunday best, but somewhere in the middle. I don't know what people wear to church anymore, but I suspected that Unitarians would be somewhat relaxed about dress code.
I had checked out this particular church online before, as it is near our house, progressive, and would perhaps provide an opportunity to troll for teenaged babysitters without too much propaganda. Nonbelievers are somewhat limited in that sense, as we don't generally gather regularly to network. When I learned that my friend attended this church, it became more appealing as his version of spirituality was kind, accepting, and non-threatening. We never went because, well, daddywhumpus is in a band, and Sunday mornings are slow-going, and scurrying out to a meeting house is the last thing that appeals to us. Unless there's bacon.
But that's brunch.
Plus, I am both an atheist and an introvert, who is unenthusiastic about change, new environments, and new situations.
I lost my community of commiseration when I got laid of, where I was around people who felt the same as I, or at least knew my friend. I decided to go to church.
daddywhumpus was out of town, so I was trudging into new territory on my own with babywhumpus, which is a recipe for discomfort if not disaster. He's not a sit-still-and-listen kind of child. He has contemplative moments, but they are commensurate with his life: short. And often about food.
The experience was about what I expected. The church is welcoming and without garish adornment; one is not assaulted with God or Jesus. There are pamphlets about human rights and specific communities and how the church is inclusive to all. I could see my friend here, smiling openly at people, talking and walking through the halls. Had I shown up there when he was in attendance, I can precisely see the reaction on his face: open-mouthed, wide-eyed shock, wonder, and gratitude, all at once, followed by a hug and kiss.
I took babywhumpus around the spaces, telling him to be quiet, even though Unitarians are not generally as stuff as some, and showing him the organ and its pipes. We sat at the back and only talked to a few people, and my friend was mentioned at the beginning. We did not make it long; once he tired of scribbling on the bulletin, was finished munching his Cheddar Bunnies into crumbs all over himself and the floor (mortifying), and made to crawl up under the pews like his Gran did when she was little, I got him out of the sanctuary. We walked the halls a little bit more, looking around, and I tried to get him back into the service as I wanted to hear the message and see if I could be comfortable here, but it was not to be. It was a beautiful day, so we went to the co-op, and went home to make eggs and sausage.
I'm glad we went; It was nice to pay respects in that way to my friend--he would have appreciated it.