We quit church.
We didn’t set out to quit church.
It just sort of happened.
We’ve done it before and we take some time and we try again. But through no fault of anyone’s we always find ourselves here. Maybe it’s summer’s fault.
It started because our marriage got wounded and that wound exposed already festering diseases that had been kept secret for our entire marriage.
We felt so raw and exposed. We were tender and our children saw the oozing blackness coming out of us.
Children are little sponges. They soak up everything and then with a resilient twist and squeeze discharge whatever they happened to absorb. In this case it was them throwing back at us what we were oozing out.
It was that first Sunday… when we didn’t know if we’d be staying together or working out custody… we couldn’t do it. We were ready and dressed and looked at our children and knew. The smugness of their faces. The exhausted and dis-regulation scrunching up their noses and crinkling up their foreheads while their cheeks sagged in apathy.
I can’t remember who said it, but one of us looked at the other and said, “Let’s not go.”
And we ended up at Avalanche.
Parents sitting three feet apart, scared to touch each other. Bitterness, secrets, pain and desperate love glitching on the shortwaves between our bodies; while the children dispersed among the grasses and on the hills and in the dirt and went out seeking rocks and sticks. They only returned to us to let their bodies check in for regulation and to show off their walking sticks and fossilized rocks.
The next few weeks it just worked out that we had other things planned on Sundays and were not able to attend church. So we kept going to the hill. Every Sunday morning since.
There we found it. All of us.
We found church.
We found that digging our hands and naked feet into the soil and the grasses, listening to the birds and the rustling of the winds, feeling the hovering of the sun on our exposed parts, was more spiritual and restoring than anything else we could have done that day in a church building.
This isn’t about being against church.
Church is community and community is healing too.
This is about finding our path as a family. Finding what works for us. Finding the things that make us come alive and what kindles our souls.
It’s also science.
I believe whole heartily that science and spirituality are the same.
I believe my God used science and uses science every day to make himself known.
God is science. (Also love. God is more than one thing. Crap. I’m going to find my name on some sort of heretical list tomorrow aren’t I? Sweet. )
Science says that we need to touch, breath, see, hear and eat nature in order to be healthy. Even better it says that it heals us. ( No. I am not claiming essential oils and marijuana cure anything… Though I do love a good oil massage now and then…*hint hint husband*)
Anyway. Now that I’ve made some of you blush…
From dust to dust and everything in between.
We’ve found our healing on a little hill in Michigan.
Now my husband and I sit closer together. (Still not touching because if we try to do that all the kids suddenly want in. Kids have a radar for whenever we go to try to touch each other intimately at any time of day or from anywhere. We’ve had a kid walk home from school two miles away because they sensed us holding hands once. )
So we sit. And drink coffee. ( Don’t worry mine is usually decaf). And we talk. We slowly plug away at pulling out the dark sludge that was festering in our wounds and stitching new flesh into the gash.
And we watch as our children’s laughs and lively chatter come echoing over the valley as they recreate the opening sequence from Little House on the Prairie and run tripping through the long grasses coming to check in.
Except now they are already regulated and they want to share that with us.
This is my church.
These are my people.
Open the car doors to let out the people.
Close the doors and hear them pray as their joyous laughter echoes away.
“I will lift my eyes to the hills-
From where does my help come from?”