I parked my car at the end of the gravel parking lot and spent a few calculated minutes playing with my phone. I didn't want to be too early. Alone would be challenging enough, but early? No, thank you.
When I finally got out of my car, I noticed a man walking a few steps in front of me. He turned and smiled in a nervous way I recognized before asking "You know where you're going?"
"No," I chuckled. "I'm following you."
"Perfect," he replied. "Two lost people will follow each other!"
We smiled and walked side by side in silence.
Perfect, lost, together.
The wooden chapel was built by the freed slaves of a local plantation. It's tiny, too small for this congregation, but beautiful in the ways that cannot be expanded or rebuilt.
Everyone was friendly, looking happy and open and welcoming. I tried to smile through my new-kid nausea, waiting for the service to begin.
This church is casual, small and intimate with laughing and clapping and singing and big questions and comfort in mystery and I liked it, I liked it all, which is not surprising since it is the denomination of my childhood. The hymn books and chalice and general ideology were instantly familiar and calming.
At this stage of my life with seemingly no spare time, when I am always and forever wishing for fewer commitments, I am choosing to go to church and I'm not exactly sure why.
But I think I may find out.
"Mom? Why do people go to church?" asked Z, a child who has never gone to church.
"Mom? If God is supposed to be in heaven, did the rocket ships hit him on their way to the moon?"
"Mom? At school everyone at my lunch table believes in God and Sarah said if I don't believe in God he'll be very, very mad at me and what if I think God is just all of nature and its power? Does that mean nature could hate me?"
She's almost 6. She has a lot of questions, and lately, a lot of specific questions about God and church and death. I'd like her to have a place to explore them.
I took Z to her first church service yesterday. When we drove up in the rain, she was bouncing in her seat.
During the service she paid attention and watched and bounced a little more.
When we drove home, she was still bouncing.
And saying, "Can we go back next week Mama? On my birthday? Since it's my birthday I get to decide, right?"
Right, darling. You get to decide.