Goin’ to Church
This past Sunday, I did something I hadn’t done in a very long time…I went to Sunday morning church service. I didn’t grow up with an organized religion in our household. Yet, growing up in the bible belt, I felt I grew up with religion standing right behind me, looming over my shoulder all the time. Once in a while I’d be invited to Sunday morning service with my childhood friends. I experienced everything from Mass to Methodist to Pentecostal to Mount Zion. The latter was my favorite because it was held in a small white clapboard church on the edge of town. It burst at the seams with music and soul. Not necessarily because of the religion, but because of the willingness of its people. For some reason I was craving this soul, this movement, its embrace. So this past Mother’s Day, I decided to take my mother in-law to the 9am service at Glide Memorial Church here in San Francisco. If you’ve never been to Glide, it was rebirthed in the height of the Civil Rights movement to embrace all faiths, all people..no exclusions, no exceptions.
That morning we stood in the pews beside women in headscarfs, gay couples, hipsters, families and people who struggle with being on the streets. We all stood before the Glide Ensemble Choir being showered with their immensity. We were entertained by two men ‘vogueing’ on stage as they promoted Glide t-shirts. The 10-piece band belted out tunes from Earth, Wind & Fire along with traditional gospel hymns. We held hands and hugged people around us, we sang, we clapped, we danced. And it was here that I finally realized that the brick & mortar church was simply a place to gather, together, and align with a higher spirit of love and compassion. This spirit seemed amplified because of the collective as it streamed down and through its participants.
We filed out of the church into the middle of the Tenderloin, a place dense with despair. And instead of shutting down or shielding from it, we cradled it with our hearts as if it were our own wound, because in the connectivity of all things, it was. From our divinity, we bowed to its divinity, the ultimate “Amen”, “Hallelujah”, “Shalom”, “Salaam”, “Namaste” moment.