Grace like rain falls down on me
And all my sins are washed away
~Todd Agnew, Grace Like Rain
There are times my soul hunger’s, a ravenous beast that can only be quelled by an encounter with God. I prefer these encounters to be in a house of worship. Intellectually, I know an omnipresent God is available anytime, anywhere I chose to prostrate my heart in communion with the almighty. Emotionally, I prefer to meet with God in a house of worship, a cathedral, a temple, a mosque, at the base of God architected red rock formations in the deserts of Utah some place the surroundings keep the presence of God in the forefront of my mind. The more ornate the structure, the deeper I feel the presence of God.
To feed the hunger, I embarked upon a tour of churches during my lunch hour today. I visited the heavily ornamented St. Peters Catholic church, the faith of my erratic, purpose seeking youth then the more subtly ornamented First United Methodist church with teachings parallel to the path of my Protestant faith. I left the Catholic faith decades ago eventually stumbling on to the Protestant path, the path much less traveled in my circles. I have never regretted taking the fork in the road. However, while I much prefer the Protestant approach to experiencing God, I do miss the statues seemingly ubiquitous in the sanctuary of Catholic churches.
The statues, imperfect physical representations of an artist’s holy vision crafted by devout hands, seize me, help me escape corporeal bonds and ascend to spiritual plateaus where I can feel the breath of God whispering into my ear. But not today. There were too many people coughing, praying, shuffling, the creaking of the polished wooden benches where weary people struggling under the pressures of life sat heavily. So, I focused on the mass in session. I heard the Gospel reading, concentrated on the homily, my least favorite part of the mass growing up because a long homily meant the mass would drag on ad infinitum.
This priest’s words found a way through the callouses on my heart, helped me become aware of transgressions I heaped upon my fellow humans. I silently confessed my sins. I felt cleansed but not connected to God. I need silence to bridge the chasm from earthly to spiritual. Not silence equating to no sound though that is helpful. Silence as in the absence of human generated noise.
Some sounds become a vehicle I ride to spiritual realms. The song a river sings while gliding over half submerged rocks deep in a winding canyon. The melody wind plays in the silvery leaves of a venerable cottonwood with roots caressed by the still waters of a small pond. The prayer Wolf recites from deep in a preternatural forest while Moon dances on the outstretched arms of ancient Tree people. And, if I am able to still my monkey mind long enough, the whisper Hawk’s shadow makes when it caresses rock, the naked red rock on which I lay stark, exposed before the Almighty.
None of these melodies were present in the church nor was my friend silence. Any possibility of connectedness was squelched the moment I crossed the doors.
The soul hunger will return. It always does. And when it does, I will go back to the Catholic church at 7 am when the doors are unlocked and the layman is allowed to enter. I will study the statues then close my eyes and listen to the words God whispers into my heart and dwell in connectedness.