Sunday, May 26, 2013

United Methodist Church

I visited the United Methodist Church this morning at the 9:30 a.m. formal service at 13055 First Avenue NE. It's the Haller Lake United Methodist Church. It's a beautiful church and it's in my neighborhood. I was driving around yesterday and found it. I thought that I might want to visit.

A very nice lady named Betty with impeccable manners was very kind and welcoming. She introduced me to all her friends. She was the example of what everyone should be when someone is new and visiting. I sat next to her and her husband during the service.

The service was very nice with an interim pastor. The sermon was based on one of Anne Lamott's books. I have two of her books and her book, Bird by Bird is a classic for writers. The sermon was about appreciating the wow factor in everyday life. I even spoke and said that I find joy in Seattle because it is a great international city where people from all over the world can live in peace, work, go to school, and live together. I find this refreshing since there is so much hatred and prejudice in the world. Seattle also has perfect weather and all the ingredients of culture like the zoo, art museum, aquarium, science center, theater, symphony, etc.

The church is beautiful. The people seem nice. I was happy to go.

And I want to know why are most ministers so serious? Why aren't they happier in church? Isn't this where they want to be? I always assumed that to a minister a church was the Disneyland of life. The best place, the happiest place to be but when I have been in different churches, most clergy are frowning and serious. It is almost like it is a job and they aren't all that excited to be there. This is house of God, supposedly, and it is their choice to be a minister so why aren't they walking around with a permanent smile? My Aunt Ellen explained it to me before she died, "it's a mama-made preacher." Was she right?

My experience deteriorated at the end.

The organist reminded me of my mother who played in church as I was little. My mother was a piano teacher. I grew up in the Lutheran Church.

On the other side in the pew, I sat next to another nice lady who lives in my neighborhood and another nice lady my age who was nice and seemed to have a lot in common with me. I thought, potential friend. The lady behind me seemed to be orchestrating my experience by telling me when to stay and encouraging Betty to leave early. When I left the sanctuary, everyone had gone into the room to gather and socialize. The minister was no where to be seen. Everyone's backs were facing me as I walked out. No one was around so I left. On my way out, I talked to a nice teacher.

Maybe they want to wait to see and think about whether I fit in or not. I think they were wondering if I would jump in and volunteer. Maybe they need someone to take people to church and wanted to see if I would be a candidate. Maybe I was too happy, too positive. Maybe they want people who ask to be "fixed." Maybe I smiled too much.

I haven't visited any churches in Seattle until this morning. Hard to tell where I belong. Maybe no where. I certainly haven't had the best experience with churches in the last few years. I believe in exercise and being healthy. I believe in science. I believe in being kind to people. I believe in being nice no matter what happens in a day. There is so little you can control in life but you can make the choice to find the good in every day and do the best you can. I'm grateful to live in Seattle where there is so much.

Well, they have a nice church and they seem like nice people but it almost seems they aren't enthusiastic about me attending since no one wanted to make sure the experience ended well and the minister left without my getting to shake her hand. Isn't it a rule that the minister is supposed to shake everyone's hand, especially new people? Yes, they were busy with things to do. There is always something to do and there is a schedule.

Will I go back? No. I was foolish to go. It is still a nice church though and there are many nice people. It's a nice place for those people who the group decides they want. I guess I don't have enough money either to be of interest. Maybe I didn't wear the right shoes. I think I am done with trying formal religion.

This is how I experience life. I see too much, feel too much, and am too sensitive. I guess this is why I am a writer and but living an isolated life is sometimes hard. Usually I keep my mouth shut about what I experience and ignore stuff and try again anyway. I thought I would share this because maybe my experience isn't an isolated experience. Maybe this is also the experience of new younger families who don't return. Yes, it was a holiday weekend but I noticed that almost everyone in the room was older than I and I'm 65 and I only saw one person who wasn't white. These subtle nuances sometimes determine your experience.

Or maybe if I had just kept all my feelings to myself and waited and tried again, maybe it would have turned out. Who knows? It didn't feel like I was welcome with some of the group.

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