While I was growing up, we had to go to church every Sunday. No excuses. I must confess that I never looked forward to it or enjoyed it. (Well, occasionally I enjoyed it, but it had nothing to do with the sermon and everything to do with who I saw there.)
When I was little, I spent my time in church deep inside my head - trying to amuse myself - or trying to sleep without anyone noticing. As I grew older, I spent that time trying to sleep without anyone noticing (You know that thing where your head falls forward? Yeah, trying to avoid that.) or trying to ignore the nagging feeling of discomfort and unease and the questions that never went away. So much of what I heard just didn't resonate with me or make sense to me.
The thing that seemed most puzzling was that I really did believe that there was something higher than myself. I just never felt that connection inside a church.
I was reminded of this today.
The weather in Oregon has been warm so the pup (who is not a fan of hot weather) has not gotten much exercise. It's supposed to stay warm so I woke up early today and brought him to the ocean so he could get his wiggles out in cooler temps. As we walked along the beach, we began running into large flocks of grey/white seagulls, grey/grey-speckled seagulls, and grey/grey-black pelicans. They were lined up along the shore, waiting for the waves to bring in their breakfast. As we'd approach, the entire flock would slowly rise into the air. The air would grow thick with beating wings and the blue of the sky would be covered by the grey/white of their feathers. We'd walk another short distance and run into the next flock (or the same flock in a new location).
It was amazingly beautiful. I was filled with joy, and an all-encompassing peace, and a sense of lightness and rightness. There was a voice in my head that kept saying, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." Over and over and over.
I haven't looked for a church since I moved away from that one. The thought crosses my mind periodically but something always stops me. But if I ever do begin to search, when I feel that same feeling inside a building, I will know that I have found my "home".