Maddie, Riley, and I had a great weekend. Mostly we just laid low, which was nice. Some friends came to us, we shopped for groceries, we jumped up and down on an extra crib mattress, we watched some Dora, we colored. You know, weekend stuff.
We also went to church.
I've written here before about wanting to explore church options. I did not regularly attend church when I was growing up, and my feelings about religion are rather . . . unformed. But I would like some kind of community beyond our little threesome to help Maddie and Riley find the directions on their moral compasses. I don't want anything dogmatic or pushy, though. I want food for thought, gentle guidance, and tolerance for a wide range of beliefs. No guilt. No punishment. No judgment. Lots of room for questions. The Unitarian Universalists fit this list of requirements pretty well. As it would happen, it was "bring a friend to church" day on Sunday, so we met friends of ours there to check things out.
Maddie and Riley are still too young for any formal Religious Education offerings at the church, but they are not too young to hang out in the well-equipped and lovingly staffed pre-K room. They had a blast playing and having snack (at least that's what they reported ex post facto) while I attended the service with my friends.
I was surprised by how moved I was by the experience. I spent a lot of time crying. The music was beautiful, the readings were thought-provoking, and the few minutes spent in silent meditation were incredibly intense. My friend and I talked afterwards about how easy it is to avoid spending quiet times with one's own thoughts. It's much easier—and safer—to pick up a book, turn on the TV, or call a friend. To just sit and be with my thoughts was difficult, a little painful, and remarkably cathartic. There's a reason I don't spend that kind of time when I get minutes to myself after the kids go to bed: it's hard work. I know it's worthwhile, but it's not easy. My first thought when the quiet bell rang signaling the start of a few minutes of meditation was, "My husband is dead, and I'm really sad about that." It seems so self-evident, but to just sit and feel that was something I had not done in a long, long time.
We all went out for coffee and snacks after the service. Even though it was well into Maddie and Riley's naptime, they held up like troopers and we all seemed refreshed by our experience. I was not only refreshed, but utterly exhausted and oddly ravenous. That hour in the sanctuary was the most emotionally exhausting hour I've spent in recent months. Once the kids were down for their nap, I ate an enormous lunch and collapsed into a heap on my couch. I'd had plans to undertake all manner of projects during naptime, but I was totally incapable of doing anything but sitting. (OK, I did read as I felt like I'd spent enough time with my thoughts for the day.)
I anticipate that we'll be going back, and we may try other congregations to find a good fit. It's a bit like shopping around for the right Al-Anon meeting, I guess. I'm just glad I finally made the time to go. It's something I've been wanting to do for a while, but then when Sundays roll around, we end up with other plans or I'm too lazy or . . . I'm glad it came together this week.