Weekly Message from T. J.

Worlds Fall Apart…and Together

I don’t remember the gown I wore. I don’t think I was wearing shoes. My parents and my sister were there. So were my aunt and uncle. I’m pretty sure I cried like a baby…because I was. I had just come into the world and this is how I joined the world of my first church. I was born into both a family and a church, really.

The second church I joined felt different. It was a Lutheran church. As a catholic I knew nothing of joining a church affirmatively. I had only ever been born into a religious world. I was a little shocked when I had to fill out an application detailing the rites of passage of my catholic youth. The church accepted my creedal credentials and I was accepted into the fold.

The third church I joined didn’t sound like a church to me, at least not in the way I’d come to know churches. I spoke with the minister and heard that he was not Christian and that he did not believe in the divinity of Jesus. I was nervous hearing a minister of a church with a steeple and everything saying such a thing. It was a new world. But I was less surprised this time when I was asked to submit an application for membership.

See, the third church was my first Unitarian Universalist congregation. And the application had nothing about the kinds of external approvals I’d gathered or any creeds I’d professed. At this church they cared about whether they could provide me with what I was seeking. They wondered how they could serve me. And it was in that spirit that I reflexively responded with care. I sang in the choir, I served as a worship assistant, and I went to church every Sunday that I was in town, sometimes (often) twice, and shared in the fellowship of that community.

Then on the worst day of my adult life, when in an instant my life crashed in on itself, I followed my feet where they led: to my church. I remember where I sat and what I wore. I looked at the world much of that day through tiny wells of tears gathered in the corners of my eyes, waiting to fall and take me into wailing once more like a baby. But when I looked around in church, I saw only people who didn’t ask about what I did in my infancy or even whether I followed any particular rules to get there.

I don’t remember the sermon. I don’t remember the hymns. I don’t remember whether I even told my minister what happened. I remember the small human kindnesses of coffee and smiling hellos. And today I know that my world wasn’t falling apart. It was being remade, like every world is always remade for all of time. But that Sunday it was being remade with a clearer vision, washed clean at last by the realities of how terrible humans can treat each other in the morning and then how welcoming, kind, and gentle they can be by the afternoon. And I was home at last.

And may it ever be so.

Rev. T. J.

4 Responses to “Weekly Message from T. J.

  1. This is beautiful, Rev. T.J. I’m reading it through my own tears, moved with the knowledge that it is the pain you lived through on that day that makes you able to respond or reach or or just hold space for others who are having their own “worst day.” Your willingness to drop everything to talk with me when my daughter felt her life imploding and sharing your experience, Hope, and strength meant more than I could tell at the time. You’re a special human being and all of us who have been or remain at FUCH are blessed by your wise and loving spirit.

  2. That was indeed beautiful. Last week’s message, about the importance of being wholly yourself, touched me as a lesbian who knows how it vital it can be to those who are wondering about their sexuality that I am as out as I can be. This week’s message reminded me of my childhood, when being dragged to a Pentecostal church I hated sort of set my aversion to organized religion from a young age. I’m glad you found a place that’s like a home to you….we all need that. 🙂

  3. 54 years ago yesterday Junko and I were married in an UU church, designing the service ourselves in conjunction with a wonderful minister. That’s been spiritual home base since. I’m so glad you found your way here and that it worked for you when you really needed it. May it continue to do so.

  4. I forward many of your weekly missives to family and friends here and on the mainland. Thank you for your continued insightful writing.

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