Holy Sanctuary, where art thou?

(Previously published)
photo

Early morning on March 18th, I stumbled on the concrete stoop of a Lutheran church in the Clinton Hill area of Brooklyn, greeted by large, arched wooden doors that stood shut. They were adorned with clunky wrought-iron door hooks, that looked like they could have existed during the Roman era. The doors were almost the size of the Damascus gate (the main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem), flanked by towers built with stone like Medieval castles. Its impact and ancient stance coaxed my senses into presuming that the church could have had a very long history, which I equated to authenticity, you know, the real thing. I figured that meant, the Holy Spirit had resided within the church interminably. Perhaps, he (the Holy Spirit) had been in this church even before my great great-great-grandfather was born.

“Oh, he’s in there and he’s real!” I imagined a total saturation of the divine being inside the church.

“I’m coming to you!” I said, filled with anticipation to open the church’s majestic doors.

The reason I found myself on the door steps of this church: For two years I immersed myself in a scavenger-hunt for a Lutheran Church (the church my family attends), to plead my allegiance to. I admit to small periods of absolute remiss on this matter, during the two years. While other times I engulfed myself in it, like an addict overwhelmed with the need to find their next hit.

My mother’s prescription for this dilemma, was a recommendation to look on the Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America’s website, to search for a congregation that is located in my stomping grounds. As I adhered to her suggestion, I was overwhelmed by the number of choices the website dished out, as over one hundred prospects appeared on my computer screen.

“Which one shall I choose?” I asked myself, feeling stuck in the wild without knowing where to go.

I started thinking about what it is I needed in a church. This opportunity to choose, jumpstarted my journey.

Did I need a church that suited my sensibilities? Could I possibly find one that is tailored to my needs? Was there such a thing? Were questions that clogged my mind.

Now here I was, standing at the threshold of this church.

Was “old-fashioned and antique looking” going to give me more of the “Holy Spirit,” than something that is nonconforming? The competent side of my brain, instantly wiped out that lame prognosis.

Despite the aura obtruding from the church, hence the description above, there was no indication of the living within the spectrum of my sight. My radar also detected rigidness from the unwelcoming shut doors.

I paced myself as I walked into the church, lost in petrifaction of the unknown. A spacious oblong-shaped, dim foyer appeared. This time, to my amusement, double doors swung wide open on my left, leading to a seated congregation.

“Phew!” I exclaimed, relieved to find folks inside.

An usher snapped me out of my daze, by brandishing an 8×10 program for the service in my face. Caught off guard, I instantly swerved anticipating a pickle, but snatched the program from the docile stumpy aged woman once I caught a glimpse of what it was.

Several rows from the pulpit, I settled on the edge of a lonely empty bench. The congregation was the smallest I had ever seen in any church. I counted four people on the right side of the church where I was, and roughly seven people on the left. This proved to amuse me very much, especially because I had been a guest in other churches of different denominations in the past, and let’s just say finding a good seat in them was as great a challenge as hearing the Priest or Pastor preach. One seriously strained to hear a word, as the echo from the mic persistently bounced on the walls of a twenty thousand square foot room, and then trying to balance on their make belief chair of a protruding slab hanging from the corner of a wall, the only thing available for them to sit on.

“Where are those that attend this church?” I wondered.

Not to undermine its credibility because of the low head count, but could it be that parishioners of a church are what keeps it functional? Go figure.

There were things that stuck out to me during the service, positive things that could put an unfaltering claim to my Sunday mornings, but others retained a veto and pushed for a continued search for my perfect holy sanctuary.

There was a female priest! Although a triple positive in my book, I didn’t know it to be common. I loved the surprise. With only a few members in attendance on this day, I think its safe to call it an intimate affair. Intimate enough to personally introduce yourself to the gracious and amiable Priest, and the welcoming fellow worshipers: A huge Nike swoosh in my book! Who needs a big crowd anyway? One-on-one meet and greet, is a definite uncertainty with a large congregation. Also, the program for the service was easy to follow and so I was in sync with everyone as soon as I sank on my seat.

“Oh, I did it! I think I have found my church!” *grins*

“Wait a minute, why does it feel like I’m sitting on bubbles?” I said, mind-boggled by the surface of the cushioned bench I was sitting on. It had lumps on all the wrong places.

“What are these contours, pebbles, rivers, lakes, and san dunes that I’m feeling?” I whiffed.

I was totally exasperated by the burgundy and velvet cushioned bench, so much that it broke my focus. I darted my eyes toward all the empty benches, looking for a way out and only to recognize uneven surfaces through out the church. I could spot bumps from afar through the dark-red material, that looked old enough to be assembled back when they used to refer to burgundy as maroon. Yes, these benches were qualified to be maroon, not burgundy.

“How did an effort to place more comfort on the benches by adding some cushion, turn so bad?” I asked myself, desperately wishing the benches were left in their “hard surface” original form.

I proceeded to cross my legs and swayed my body drastically to the left, in an effort to leave only one cheek of my bottom to deal with the conflict. At this point, I would have sat on a plank.

And then there was the dimness through out the church. If I tried to measure the intensity of that light, it would not even qualify. I wasn’t up for a candle-lit romantic dinner, nor were the premises befitting for a movie theater, so I didn’t get the purpose of “conserving the light.” If I had stayed inside a little longer after the service, I had no doubt I was going to see bats, owls and raccoons at play. Even then, the good outweighed the bad.

Should I hold out for my happily ever after? Please leave your comments below. I want to hear your thoughts about it. 🙂

Stay tuned to Part 2 of my unsolved Church Saga.

Copyright © 2015 by Selwana Hudson. All Rights Reserved

On the humble, I’m not the one with “the most” in mi familia…

I know I have not written much for the blog as of late, so I hope to resurrect it with a little something today. My life surely isn’t comparable to the busiest of them all, but it gets pretty hectic in my little sphere of life – juggling a job, a twenty-two month old, a husband and a rigid writing schedule than I have ever adopted.

An acquaintance relayed to me her burden of being the most accomplished in her family, and how she did not have a good role model growing up. It got me thinking about the abundance of crown jewels of wisdom, integrity and fineness that I have in my own backyard. Unlike my associate, I could not lay claim to having the most of anything within my family. I don’t know if my feelings are prompted by some kind of ‘middle child syndrome,’ but I assure you, those that precede me set the bar pretty high.

Well, today I shall be exposed as one who is not in possession of the titles of “most intelligent, most courageous, and most beautiful” in my family. But alas, I know the people who do, can I at least get credit for that. It is my hope that all those attributes, slightly rubbed off on me in some way.

I have grown up in the realm of incredible folks around me. I never had to look any further away from my family for – inspiration, profound love, lessons in self-worth and strength of mind, fearlessness, determination, all the while embracing womanhood and ways to prettify ones own natural beauty.

See, I have a brother who by far surpasses me with his mental capacity – pretty much most forms applicable to the plethora of mental activity. Or whatever altitude is used to grasp the measure of intelligence. He was naturally assigned this ability since his formation. He is the same person, that has always stood up for himself regardless of how mighty or tough the opposition stood – A quality I never possessed in my youth. This fellow, easily harmonizes with folks from all types of denominations, social and political spectrum. Through his trials and unfortunate set backs, he has never forsaken to dream big. I have seen him rattled, scurrying hither and thither in search for overhead to shield him, as he haphazardly ran from sprinklers of harsh realities. Even then, he never cast off positive insight, led partially by his intelligence I presume, and his relentless pursuit for elements that can afford him the satisfaction he highly seeks. From his example alone, I shudder at the notion of settling, in every aspect of my life.

I have often wondered how my mother squared off the calamities that have plagued her through out her life. Besides having a mentally disabled child, she poses as the matriarch of a family of twelve siblings (excluding the dozens of their children). However, that number is severely altered because as it is now, there are more folks who have graduated to the after life, than there are remaining. A fact that is hard to reconcile, especially with her mother (my grandmother) being the last of those we lost. One couldn’t possibly become comfortable with frequent visits to drop loved ones at the graveyard. Also, having a sick/disabled child, without the powers to help them or change their state in any way, would debilitate the toughest of men. It would be a fair presumption that she could have morphed into steel by now, but she continues to be engaged with life, is hardworking, oozes with grace, strength, tenderness, and great tenacity as she effortlessly stomps over mountains of adversity that would chew and spit out the average folk, myself included. With great faith, she remains spruced up with connotations that suggest that her best life has not even succeeded her yet. So I can’t be some little chump with superwoman as my mother. Bring it on baby!

The topic of beauty is interesting, because I find that things are not always what they seem. I’ve had folks insinuate that I seem prettier than my sixty-three year old mother. Why a thirty-three year old and a sixty-three year old are being compared, bewilders me, but that’s another story. Needless to say, mi madre at my age, was far more attractive than I am. She never had to be bound with braces to get a descent smile out of her, like some people we know, or utilize a broad range of cosmetics/prosthetics to look tolerable like… okay, you get the drift. She was naturally beautiful. Thus, when my sister was born she was just as flawless. She resembled my mother and was the prettiest baby girl I had ever seen – there are those that can vouch for this. She was undoubtedly born prettier than I was, but when her disability/sickness took over as she got older, the shape of her whole being slowly changed unfavorably. So as it is, there are those that don’t know the real truth of who really was born more beautiful in the family because of the facade of life’s bearings. Things are not always what they seem!

Mama…

Copyright © 2012 by Selwana Hudson. All Rights Reserved

Holy Sanctuary, Where Art Thou?

Early morning on March 18th, I stumbled on the concrete stoop of a Lutheran church in the Clinton Hill area of Brooklyn, greeted by large, arched wooden doors that stood shut. They were adorned with clunky wrought-iron door hooks, that looked like they could have existed during the Roman era. The doors were almost the size of the Damascus gate (the main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem), flanked by towers built with stone like Medieval castles. Its impact and ancient stance coaxed my senses into presuming that the church could have had a very long history, which I equated to authenticity, you know, the real thing. I figured that meant, the Holy Spirit had resided within the church interminably. Perhaps, he (the Holy Spirit) had been in this church even before my great great-great-grandfather was born.

“Oh, he’s in there and he’s real!” I imagined a total saturation of the divine being inside the church.

“I’m coming to you!” I said, filled with anticipation to open the church’s majestic doors.

The reason I found myself on the door steps of this church: For two years I immersed myself in a scavenger-hunt for a Lutheran Church (the church my family attends), to plead my allegiance to. I admit to small periods of absolute remiss on this matter, during the two years. While other times I engulfed myself in it, like an addict overwhelmed with the need to find their next hit.

My mother’s prescription for this dilemma, was a recommendation to look on the Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America’s website, to search for a congregation that is located in my stomping grounds. As I adhered to her suggestion, I was overwhelmed by the number of choices the website dished out, as over one hundred prospects appeared on my computer screen.

“Which one shall I choose?” I asked myself, feeling stuck in the wild without knowing where to go.

I started thinking about what it is I needed in a church. This opportunity to choose, jumpstarted my journey.

Did I need a church that suited my sensibilities? Could I possibly find one that is tailored to my needs? Was there such a thing? Were questions that clogged my mind.

Now here I was, standing at the threshold of this church.

Was “old-fashioned and antique looking” going to give me more of the “Holy Spirit,” than something that is nonconforming? The competent side of my brain, instantly wiped out that lame prognosis.

Despite the aura obtruding from the church, hence the description above, there was no indication of the living within the spectrum of my sight. My radar also detected rigidness from the unwelcoming shut doors.

I paced myself as I walked into the church, lost in petrifaction of the unknown. A spacious oblong-shaped, dim foyer appeared. This time, to my amusement, double doors swung wide open on my left, leading to a seated congregation.

“Phew!” I exclaimed, relieved to find folks inside.

An usher snapped me out of my daze, by brandishing an 8×10 program for the service in my face. Caught off guard, I instantly swerved anticipating a pickle, but snatched the program from the docile stumpy aged woman once I caught a glimpse of what it was.

Several rows from the pulpit, I settled on the edge of a lonely empty bench. The congregation was the smallest I had ever seen in any church. I counted four people on the right side of the church where I was, and roughly seven people on the left. This proved to amuse me very much, especially because I had been a guest in other churches of different denominations in the past, and let’s just say finding a good seat in them was as great a challenge as hearing the Priest or Pastor preach. One seriously strained to hear a word, as the echo from the mic persistently bounced on the walls of a twenty thousand square foot room, and then trying to balance on their make belief chair of a protruding slab hanging from the corner of a wall, the only thing available for them to sit on.

“Where are those that attend this church?” I wondered.

Not to undermine its credibility because of the low head count, but could it be that parishioners of a church are what keeps it functional? Go figure.

There were things that stuck out to me during the service, positive things that could put an unfaltering claim to my Sunday mornings, but others retained a veto and pushed for a continued search for my perfect holy sanctuary.

There was a female priest! Although a triple positive in my book, I didn’t know it to be common. I loved the surprise. With only a few members in attendance on this day, I think its safe to call it an intimate affair. Intimate enough to personally introduce yourself to the gracious and amiable Priest, and the welcoming fellow worshipers: A huge Nike swoosh in my book! Who needs a big crowd anyway? One-on-one meet and greet, is a definite uncertainty with a large congregation. Also, the program for the service was easy to follow and so I was in sync with everyone as soon as I sank on my seat.

“Oh, I did it! I think I have found my church!” *grins*

“Wait a minute, why does it feel like I’m sitting on bubbles?” I said, mind-boggled by the surface of the cushioned bench I was sitting on. It had lumps on all the wrong places.

“What are these contours, pebbles, rivers, lakes, and san dunes that I’m feeling?” I whiffed.

I was totally exasperated by the burgundy and velvet cushioned bench, so much that it broke my focus. I darted my eyes toward all the empty benches, looking for a way out and only to recognize uneven surfaces through out the church. I could spot bumps from afar through the dark-red material, that looked old enough to be assembled back when they used to refer to burgundy as maroon. Yes, these benches were qualified to be maroon, not burgundy.

“How did an effort to place more comfort on the benches by adding some cushion, turn so bad?” I asked myself, desperately wishing the benches were left in their “hard surface” original form.

I proceeded to cross my legs and swayed my body drastically to the left, in an effort to leave only one cheek of my bottom to deal with the conflict. At this point, I would have sat on a plank.

And then there was the dimness through out the church. If I tried to measure the intensity of that light, it would not even qualify. I wasn’t up for a candle-lit romantic dinner, nor were the premises befitting for a movie theater, so I didn’t get the purpose of “conserving the light.” If I had stayed inside a little longer after the service, I had no doubt I was going to see bats, owls and raccoons at play. Even then, the good outweighed the bad.

Should I hold out for my happily ever after? Please leave your comments below. I want to hear your thoughts about it. 🙂

Stay tuned to Part 2 of my unsolved Church Saga.

Copyright © 2012 by Selwana Hudson. All Rights Reserved