In kicking off my Lent observance I decided to go to my old Lutheran church today.
That church always brings back memories – some good, some bad. It’s always a mixture of pain and comfort if that makes any sense. I will explain.
About a decade ago I was dating a woman who went to that church. She was very religious and came from a strict Presbyterian background. When we first started dating I wasn’t religious at all but she talked me in to going there with her from time to time. Most of the time the only reason I went was to sit beside her. The pastor there was gay, out to his congregation who was mostly straight with a sprinkling of gays. I liked the balance, I liked to sing sometimes and since I’m an avid reader and writer I was always inclined to read along in the scripture with the sermon. I eventually got a Bible and she and I became official members of the church (which, we’re both still listed as) and got baptized there together. Eventually, we decided to get married. We asked the pastor if he would marry us in the church but at the time he wasn’t performing those services in the church. We decided instead to go to Hawaii and get married. I won’t go in to detail of the whole sorid story but she left me for another a month before we were to be married and later the pastor did marry her and the woman she left me for in that church.
I remember after the breakup (and, her moving out) putting my Bible on the shelf to be forgotten. I had stopped going to that church because I couldn’t stand to see her there with her new girlfriend (who, I might add left her years later for another). Not only did I feel betrayed by her but by the pastor who married her to another there. I went to other churches after that with friends. I went to the big ol’ gay church in midtown but somehow being gay and being with Jesus was a little much for me. I went to a few other churches closer to the house but that didn’t do anything for me, either. I chocked it up that I was done with religion. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Years later when I found out my ex and her wife moved out to Portland I darkened the doorway of the church again. I missed the pastor even though I was still a little p!ssed at him. (I have forgiven him since) I missed the music and the ritual. Time would go by and I would wake up on an occasional Sunday off and decide to go.
It was only recently that I dusted off the Bible and brought it out. My old name was engraved on the cover. I remembered under her advice, ordering it special. I opened it and a dried rose fell out. I shut it again remembering that was the rose she gave me when we got baptized together. Maybe this is too much for me. I put the Bible on the counter where it sat until today when I picked it up to take with me to church.
“Suck it up, Lanie. You’re going.”
When I got to the church I was told that a sewer pipe had busted and that they had moved the service down the road to the Methodist church. As I drove there I thought it was ironic that after all this time that I would end up in an entirely different church. Maybe different surroundings wouldn’t be quite as painful. I walked into the huge sanctuary and went over and hugged my old pastor before getting seated. The service started and after announcements and singing a woman stepped up to give the sermon.
“Who’s that?” I thought. “She’s hot. Stop it, Lanie. Even in church you’re cruising. Is nothing sacred with you? Stop – focus on the sermon……… wonder if she’s the regular pastor here? Maybe I should change churches. Focus!”
Even so, she gave me pause and as I listened to her voice as she led the prayers and then when we had a moment of silence for our own prayers I prayed for my cousin’s partner, Charlie and then, “-and, please don’t let me see a whole year go by without getting laid. Please, Lord, I’m at your mercy.”
I guess nothing’s sacred afterall.