Sitting alone - just me and the air - and thinking of the thousands of people that are readying themselves for church. I used to be one of them. Somewhere along the way I lost the desire and the comfort that it once held for me.
Maybe my reluctance began with the crying.
I would enter a church, find an empty spot, kneel for a moment, alone with the crucified Jesus, and the tears would begin. Mostly they dripped silently, one after the other, sometimes they would become salty rivulets and occasionally they would be accompanied by deep sobs, disturbing the quiet reverence of the space.
I cried for myself mostly, grieving the death of happily ever after. I cried for the unworthy child. I cried in helplessness and hopelessness. I cried to soothe the unseen wounds.
Under God's watchful eyes, I begged for peace. But somehow I knew it was not to be found within brick walls where judgment was everywhere and I was nothing.
So I sought out the holy places - grassy hillsides, lush canopies of green, pasture fenceposts, and rocks big enough to climb. I close my eyes and feel the wind on my face, the sun's warmth, soft grass beneath my feet.
In this space, my heart leaps with God's resounding "yes". I connect with all that is, humbled by the vastness of his universe. One with God, I am great and small, wondrous and simple, perfect and worthy. His gifts affirm love and wholeness and connectedness. And sometimes I cry, not in grief, but in the possibility of happily ever after, for childlike joy. Wounds knit themselves together and I am strong, powerful and peaceful, able to see through the illusions of pain and fear and helplessness and guilt.
I think of the crucified Jesus and take him from the cross in my head. He becomes again the God/man who walked the earth. I find his message in his life and all of life, and not in his death. We play and celebrate in this beautiful kingdom - with butterflies and ancient trees, shimmering dragonflies and dog kisses. I find him unexpectedly, as I wander through my day. He speaks to me in the breeze, the words of a song, the rain, the voice of a stranger, the eyes of a laughing child. And I pause to listen to life as it happens, and give thanks.
I can't imagine that he expects me to wait to share in his kingdom at the end of times, when he's dropped me in the middle of the garden, and there are so many lilacs to smell.