Monday, September 8, 2008

starting from scratch

I visited a local Unitarian Universalist congregation on Sunday. Driving there I felt like I had many little bruises on my inside parts. Not specifically painful, but definitely tender, vulnerable.

I guess I wanted to make a note of that. The bruised feeling. I had rather anticipated a feeling of freedom, of a burden lifting by allowing myself to take a step away from the LDS ward. That feeling may yet come, but I want to be honest about this experience and not try to tell the story as I think it should go, doing the same kind of whitewashing and re-interpreting of the story that has been done to Mormon History, the same kind of whitewashing and re-interpreting that happens in so many faithful member's journals.
I do it too; coming up with the expected explanation for things that I really don't have an explanation for. I'd like to stop that habit.

So I felt a little bruised going to a new church service.
But it was a lovely service, music, a few readings, a sermon (about what Americans believe, facts, figures, and statistics).

Next sunday, I think I'll attend a local Friends meeting. (I've been before, and was very touched by the guided silence).

Then, the week after that..... I don't know. Perhaps sample meditation with the Buddhists, experience Eucharist with the Episcopals, maybe even find a coven of local pagans and see what they say about the divine feminine and the power of trees.

But I feel a bit jaded about doing this. Am I shopping around for a church? For a belief system? I have no allusions that this is a treasure hunt where I will be able to find a nice neat package "just for me" in some hidden location.

But I do need to rebuild my beliefs, find the things I believe in. I used to believe so strongly... I used to feel the spirit so strongly, and experience God so strongly.
I've lost that. And hope to be able to regain some semblance of it all.

Well.... more about this later.


Elizabeth-W said...

I've always liked Bahai ( Just wanted to add another to the shopping cart ;)

woundedhart said...

I have very little to offer, just that I know how you feel, and I wish you peace.

Alisa said...

I am planning on making my way to a society of friends meeting too this month. This will be my first time. Without having been to the service, I'm calling it "bizarro testimony meeting," where silence is expected.

flygirl said...

I like your honesty. I have found that I don't always feel like I think I'm going to on this journey either. But we might as well tell the truth about it at this point, right? I am very interested in trying the Unitarians and the Quaker Society, though I don't think I would ever be able to be fully immersed the way I was in Mormonism.
I like the way you talked about feeling bruised. I think there are many feelings to feel at new experiences like this, and I don't know if I'll ever feel the kind of comfort that I once felt at LDS meetings, but no longer do.
Like woundedhart, I hope you find peace, which I really believe you eventually will, whatever form it takes.

Numismatist Facts said...

While everyone else is in church on Sunday mornings I go for long run/walks. No music, no traffic, just quiet, reflective time. That time is almost sacred to me in a very personal way.

Organized religion turned out to be too confining. My feelings and beliefs (or disbeliefs) are still changing daily and so require constant self-examination. I just couldn't fit into the same box week after week.

Good luck and please keep posting. Peace is out there waiting.

JohnR said...

G, I'm looking forward to hearing about your visits and your impressions.

I'm not sure if you'd be interested, but I wrote a few posts about some of my own church visits a couple of years back.

G said...

oh, Bahai! yes, I definitely need to add that to my 'shopping cart'. thanks, elizabeth-w!

and thankyou, woundedhart, for you wish of peace!

alisa- yeah, when I first went to a Friends meeting it was a bit... different? group silence, new concept for me too. weird at first, but I really was touched. hope you have a good experience.

thanks, flygirl. and, yes, I too doubt that I will find an organized religion that I can immerse myself in as I was in the LDS church.

Yes, Numismatist Facts, long walks and periods of solitude and silence tend to be where I find most my answers. My tendency is towards isolation... I guess that is why I am looking around at other faith communities, trying to step out of that tendency? find a place to be of use? some people to buffer my solitude? not sure about that exactly, but I do feel as you- I doubt I will find an organization where I fit in nicely.

and THANK YOU JohnR, for the link, I am loving your OC pilgrimage! (Orange County? or Obsessive Compulsive? :) Mine is going to just have to be Obsessive Compulsive.) :)

chandelle said...

We went to a UU meeting once, a few months after we left the church. I feel that it's a good middle ground for people trying to find their feet after leaving a faith. Nothing about the meeting bothered me; in fact, it was quite lovely. But I figured out that I just don't LIKE going to church, being expected every week, singing, listening to people speak. Religion in any form simply does not work for me. I feel comfortable with that now, but before I felt like I needed "something," some way to define myself, and I was accustomed to looking outside of myself for ideas and validation. Once I got over the belief that I needed to look somewhere else for anything like that, I settled comfortably into my own value system. I don't believe in gods, but I feel something like that peace of "the Spirit" when I am in nature, working hard, or spending a wonderful time with friends or family. That's all the church and spirituality I need. But it's different for everyone. I hope you find what you're looking for.

I have always wanted to go to a Friends meeting. I haven't yet because the only one in Utah is pretty far away, and we have kids. I don't know how welcome children can be in a silent meeting. I want to go with somebody, too. Just have to find someone. I've mentioned it to Mel before, but I don't know if she's really interested.

djinn said...

More thoughts from a random pixillated being from the depths of the internet. Your experience of the divine, as it were, has been mediated from birth in the context of "A church," that is, a construct involving a special buiding, a certain set of services that even your forays into quakerism (oh, how I admire quakers, they managed to be right on all those issues that..... well, you know....)

But the divine can be experienced in other ways--without a mediator. If you like. God (whom I don't actually believe in as a physical being, but as a component of our souls) can make him/herself available in different contexts--I suspect your art brings you closer without the necessity for outward accoutrements. Good luck on your journey. I find little reminders (Chandelle's altar) scattered around my house help me focus on the divine; it's sorta my secret; most of these innocent things do not appear to have such power, but to me they mean quite a bit. Of course, I must confess, they range from my Icon of the Virgin of Guadelupe, a "primitive" piece painted on tin in praise of a woman saved in childbirth; with pics of her husband with arms raised and three grateful children to my Hello Kitty vibrator (kid you not) a lovely collection of the divine and the profane--not so far apart. Must get to bed; profundity does not suit me.

G said...

"hello kitty vibrator..." hahahaha!
but really, I love the idea of the little things, the little reminders you have around the house (seemingly insignificate to others, but meaning-full to you)
thanks, djinn

Boquinha said...

You know? I think it's because we come from this LDS framework that says, "If you're visiting a church, you must be seeking for a church to join!" It's how we approach visitors, isn't it? We pounce. We get missionaries there.

We've been visiting other churches as part of our homeschooling--we do a different one every month. We've done Mormonism and Quaker Meeting so far. This month is Buddhism. We're doing Wicca, Catholicism, and more. Someone in our ward seriously said to me, "I heard you attended a Quaker meeting. I heard you're church shopping." What??

I don't feel like one must "jump ship" from one boat to another. How about just floating along? How about waking up on Sundays (or whatever day) and doing whatever makes you feel most spiritual, whatever you're most drawn to? That's what I keep telling myself anyway . . .

Boquinha said...

By the way, Friends Meetings are WONDERFUL. Because there's no expectation on how "testimonies are supposed to be," anything goes and everything is okay, so everyone is so open to it and listens to hear the message (and not to be able to say, "That's not a testimony! He didn't say anything about Jesus or Joseph Smith!"). It's a beautiful, beautiful thing.