Most Sunday mornings my “church” is running a trail, eating pancakes with my family, or cruising slopes in the mountains. Sometimes however, I do find myself in the sanctuary of a building that holds a proverbial steeple. Growing up I argued to my Mom that I was closer to God on the mountain. Back then I meant I was higher in the sky to where God lives. Today that takes on such larger meaning.
Many ask why I would drag two boys (make that three) to church on the only day of the week we have no where to be. The sermon I heard on this day articulated it so well for me, “it is a place where we experience the world as it should be.” I am drawn to church to experience hope that the world can be a place of calm, peace, and forgiveness. When I feel low I can count on these sanctuaries – nature, church, community – to lift me up and remind me there is something beyond what we can see and touch in this world.
Every time I am in church I cry. Until recently I couldn’t give this feeling words. One Sunday morning the sermon hit on the topic of being touched by Jesus and God. Perhaps it is my unexpressed feelings weighted in my tight shoulders, tensed brow, and gritted teeth loosening and relaxing under the “touch” of something I can not explain but only feel that causes a letting go that allows the tears to fall.
The pastor went on to point out we are ultimately all on the same path. Somewhere along the path we are given the opportunity to feel something greater than ourselves or as how he describes it we are touched by Jesus. For some, our paths may be interrupted by something so great, so much bigger than ourselves that we can’t help but be made aware that there is something greater at work here to believe in. For others it could be more subtle. Whether it be Jesus and God, or something, or someone else who moves us, shows kindness or love, we can’t let our world get so crazy that we miss what is to the right and left of our paths.
It is not religion or obligation that has me longing for the sanctuary of a church. My Mom took us to church for a “moment of peace” as she likes to say and to hear and sing beautiful music. The sanctuary calls her in hopes of peace (which might have gotten when I wasn’t fighting my little brother).
I am not a religious person but, I am a spiritual person. Noah and Eric were baptized as a right of passage that introduces them to core beliefs of faith, hope, peace, kindness, and love. I want them to know how to find their own sanctuaries for these things. I want them know about church and how its stories came to be, like what Christmas is, really. I also want them to know that they can come to the church to experience the world as it should be. I found sanctuaries in running, on the mat, in the mountains and in the special moments. As they grow, my hope for them is they find safe places to go and feel that which the can not see.
Both running and experiencing the world as a parent are constant reminders that no matter how big the challenges I face are there is something larger at work to have faith in. My daily practice is to do what I can to extend the grace I experience in sanctuary beyond the walls, mat, or trail and carry it with me through the chaotic world.