Sunday, 10 March 2013

places of worship

In a conversation last night, I heard myself explaining to someone why I never manage to make it to church on Sunday mornings. I swing dance on Saturday nights. I volunteer to help clean up at the end of the night. The end of the night is usually about 1 a.m. (last night it was 2/3 a.m.; thank you daylight savings). Usually I don't get home until close to two in the morning. Getting up at nine in the morning to brave the STO's Sunday bus schedule is just plain unappealing.

I'm not Godly. I'm an athiest, but I love my church. At least, I love it in principle. I went to church when I lived in Vancouver. My biggest impediment was the nearly-two-hour public transit trip. I'd love if my STO-related reason was the 'reason' I don't go to church here; when you get down to it, it's a convenient excuse.

I loved my church in Vancouver. I loved the youth I was advising. I loved the tree outside the window where I always chose to sit. I found that church peaceful. It was good for my soul.

I am home now, whatever that means. There is only one Unitarian Universalist church in Ottawa. It's the church I grew up in, and I mean that more literally than you can possibly imagine. The First UU Church is the physical site of so many adolescent antics, so many long, luxuriously sleepless nights full of laughter, so many trivial -but irreplaceable- memories. It is also where the ball dropped, where everything came crashing down, the stage of too many moments I can never forget, and too many more than I sometimes wish I could tuck away in drawers like sparrows in a museum, separate from the real world, ordered into categories that make scientific sense. The church -the physical space- is full of too many moments. Too many memories. Too many funerals.

That is my church. That is why I don't go back.

I am afraid. It is not an easy place for me. It is full of ghosts and half-truths and teenage miscommunications that shaped me. It is a place of worship, but I am trying to move past my past. How do you worship in a place that symbolizes that kind of pain, your own history, in a remotely healthy way?

How do I go back there like it's nothing? Like it's normal? Like life's normal? Like it ever was. I don't know if I really want to. I don't know if I am ready to face that yet.

Yet, I hate hearing myself make excuses to someone I barely know (but wish I knew better). I hate that I represent myself that way, that I must because this explanation is impossible right now because I can't be completely honest with him. Not now. Not there. Not yet? I hate that I want to explain it all to him, as if to dispell some myth of myself.

And so I write it all down and hope that it helps to make some small sense of it, that facing up to the excuses I'm making may, in some simple way, help me to make my peace with it.