When I first met Paul (not his real name) he was still reeling after the premature death of his husband. We had coffee a few times and I did the “unthinkable”, I invited him to church. “I’m not religious,” he replied, “I’m spiritual.” I was wishing I had a dollar for every time I heard that comment. But December was coming and I knew that the first Christmas season without his husband would be brutal. I also knew that he had a church background—maybe not a positive one—but a Sunday morning service was not foreign territory for him.
So the week before the first week-end in December I e-mailed the following to him: “Paul, I am willing to bet that you are dreading this month. And so I am asking you to trust me and come to St. Andrew’s this Sunday. We will be lighting the candle of Hope. I think you will feel safe among us.” Well, Paul showed up that Sunday two years ago and he stayed. He stayed and he did trust us because we have worked overtime to create a safe place for those who “don’t know what they believe anymore”, for those who are members of the LGBT community, for those who are Buddhist or Jewish but share our core values.
We identify ourselves as a Circle of Friends from diverse places on a quest to understand and to practice the radical love of Jesus and Ghandi and the Buddha and Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa.
We know that this time of year is particularly challenging for many. So come as you are and take a seat among us (on a comfortable chair). Sit and breathe and be with others who, too, have a story that is much the same as yours. Together in the silence, in the music, in the candlelight we discover something about the Mystery that is Life.
Together we are not alone.
PLEASE NOTE: This blog post was first published as an article in an early December 2017 issue of the Picton Gazette.