It was January of 2008. My friend C had suggested I go to church with her one Sunday. I can’t remember why I was alone: I’m not sure where my boys were or my then husband was, but I was alone in the house. I had been to her church before and it was the first one I have ever been in where I didn’t feel like I was going to be struck by lightning for going into it. While I do believe in some sort of higher being or consciousness, I wasn’t brought up in a super religious family. My parents “made me” go to Sunday school at a Methodist church as a child where I was presented with a Bible at the age of 12. Then my brother and I started refusing to get out of bed and my mom had a bit of a faith crisis and we moved to Texas where finding a Methodist church was a project (we were surrounded by Baptists, Catholics or Pentacostals). So she gave up. She and I dabbled in Unitariansm when I was in my twenties, but it felt too lonely to me. There was something missing.
Until I went to C’s Church in Orlando the first time in 2007. My husband was on the road so I even brought my kids. My youngest son (3) happily went into the nursery school, and my older son who was about seven, asked to come with me into the cathedral where my friend and her friend were waiting for us. I looked around at the Stained glass windows and realized every one of them represented different religion. I took a deep breath and waited for the lightning– so to speak. When the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach didn’t come, I wasn’t sure if I felt scared or relieved. As the service started, my son was, as usual, his seven going on 22 self. He was quiet and observing. He told me on the way home he liked how the place felt. I remember leaving that day and actually wanting to go back. But my then husband thought the church was weird after I told him about it, (“What do all those windows mean? It’s like it can’t decide what church to be.”) Plus, it was forty minutes away from my house and I had two small kids and a failing marriage.
Now it was January 2008. And C had invited me again. I was reading Eat, Pray, Love and realizing that, like the author, I didn’t want to be married anymore. Well not to him. But I didn’t know what to do. I had two small kids and couldn’t pay my rent alone.
My friend’s invitation to her church called to me and hit me in my gut in a way that told me I had to go. So I did.
It was the first Sunday service of the new year. The pastor handed out small rectangular stones that were about the size and shape of a Domino. She told us to be silent a moment and when a word came to us and wouldn’t be dismissed, we should write it down in pencil on the stone. My word begged me, then hugged me, then caressed my cheek. It was a whisper at first. My eyes welled and and I fought back the urge to laugh and cry at the same time.Edit
It was perfect. I knew.
That’s when I knew that my coming year would be full of tears, the unknown, laughter, friendships, false starts, revelations, doubts, anger, panic, too little sleep and too much stress, and yet, at the foundation, was hope.
I had hope and faith that I was smart enough to know what was right for both my kids and for me. And that we would be okay.
I still have that little white stone. It’s in the windowsill of my kitchen in CA. When I’m rinsing out a coffee cup at the sink and internally lamenting my current self-imposed stress/crisis, I look at that stone and remember how I felt when I wrote on it: where I was and how I just knew it would be okay. And it still will be.