Wayne and I are missing church this morning due to a “winter weather advisory” which includes icy rain and slick roads. Then we’re getting some snow! I’ll miss going this morning because weather and wellness permitting, during the fall, winter and spring, Wayne and I go to our Episcopal church in Cape Elizabeth* every Sunday. We prefer the early morning quiet and “contemplative” service which means there are no hymns, choir nor an organ being played. Unlike the later service there is a relatively small attendance of regulars. Here are some things I really love about our ritual:
It takes the edge off.
Decades ago I drank to destroy the clarity of painful memories. Over the years after I put down that destructive compulsion I replaced it with healthy coping skills. Even so, the most sophisticated cognitive-behavioral applications can’t address the issue of forgiveness*. As long as I’m resentful, whether towards others or myself, I’m not at peace. During that hour my burden is lightened. It’s not just an attitude adjustment; it’s healing. I change.
In a crazy, ever-changing world, I can count on it.
There’s comfort in familiarity and having rituals that help ground me while elevating me spiritually. The Lord’s Prayer has special significance for me, yet left to my own devices I don’t stop to pray because I’m “too busy”. On Sunday morning, time becomes sacred and it’s not taken for granted. I’m humbled and appreciate the need to keep praying.
I love the candles, stained glass and open space.
It’s a vastly different view from what I look at the rest of the week. Electronic distractions are banished from view. I feel a connection to simpler times in New England when people gathered to worship. Other than electric lighting, it seems timeless, especially when the (real) church bell rings.
Good sermons spark compassionate self-reflection.
Our rector, Rev. Timothy A. Boggs, is a gifted orator whose sermons inspire me. I always welcome the opportunity for self-improvement. It’s much easier to change when I can forgive myself not just for whatever it is I’m berating myself over and about, but forgive that I’m even doing it in the first place. Then I can forgive myself for my self-absorption and focus on how I can be a more compassionate person, especially towards those I was resenting.
Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
It’s something Wayne and I enjoy as a couple.
We bring our own copy of the Book of Common Prayer that we share during the service. We usher as a couple. On our way home from the service we reflect on the sermon together.
As for what we will be doing this morning instead of going to church, Wayne is catching up on some sleep and I’ll be baking a loaf of gluten-free bread from my own recipe which as always contains zero Xanthan gum or artifice. I tweak it every time and think I’m getting closer to having it become sandwich bread which is the holy grail of gluten-free baking!
*If you’ve been following my blog since last summer you know that Wayne and I did a Maine Episcopal Summer Chapel Tour. We have become members of St. Ann’s in Kennebunkport so it is now our summer church. In addition to St. Ann’s we will visit with some of the friends we made at the other chapels.
**I know forgiveness is a very charged word. I wanted nothing to do with it for most of my life. It does not mean to forget, nor does it mean the absence of healthy boundary-setting and consequences. I have a lot to share about this topic at a future time.