When I was 12 years old I arose out of the baptismal waters and was pronounced “saved.” I was greatly relieved to know that when I died I would not be sent into eternal torment.
My twelve year old self assumed that being saved also implied that while still on earth I would be protected by some kind of spiritual golden parachute, that my commitment to Jesus would qualify me for a joyful, abundant life free, for the most part, of life’s tragedies and suffering.
As you might imagine it wasn’t terribly long before I found myself sadly disillusioned. The search began; the search for what is really true. How grateful I am for that rude awakening in my early twenties. The realization that I did not know what I thought I knew propelled me to explore thoughts and ideas, theologies foreign to me, opening my eyes and expanding my world more than I knew possible.
I left the Church of my Childhood and over the years moved through the Presbyterian Church, Unitarian, Unity, Church of Conscious Harmony and beyond. The last several years of non-church membership have been soul nourishing and liberating, allowing my spiritual exploration free reign.
Though I still do not fully comprehend our move from Austin to Paris, clearly it is far more than a geographical shift. It is a return to John’s geographical roots, and, surprisingly, I find myself returning to my spiritual roots in a way I would never have expected.
We once again attend church; we look forward to Sundays. I have not returned to the Church of My Childhood, but a distant cousin. The songs are familiar; the communion table is familiar; I feel at home. And, the week before we began attending an openly gay couple was welcomed into the fold…in Paris, TX.
Church attendance is no longer connected to “salvation,” but to participation in the ongoing, open discussion of what is really true. I think we may have found Christians in Paris who are actively engaged in the search for Reality, the search for Truth. While they remain committed to their Christian tradition they are openly respectful of all sincere paths to Truth. Luckily for me, I already know most of the hymns.