Easter always gets me to thinking, and my thinking is not the pious kind. There was a time when I seriously thought monks' robes were appealing, but that era is long in my past. Easter gets me to thinking because, like most other holidays, it is an alone time for me.
I guess I've generally been a loner. At my previous church, I never quite fit in. I was too intellectual, too socially liberal, not Republican enough, and just was a general oddball. I have always had the sort of job in which I am an independent contractor who shows up, does stuff, and then goes away. (That is really the life of the adjunct instructor at most colleges. They go out of their way to say, "You are not really part of us." Ashland University breaks that trend, I am glad to say.) Divorce, of course, is a highly legalized way for people to say, "You are not part of our family any more." So life has been a tale of solitude for me.
I guess there are some advantages to this lifestyle, especially when it comes to holidays. In our culture, holidays are a time when people with families gather for feasts and try to put up with the bizarre political opinions of their relations. I eat something simple and take a walk. (The wild flowers were amazing this Easter.)
We humans were not made to be alone, though, and deep in my heart, I longed for the kind of Christian community that I couldn't find in "a bunch of people who get together to sing Christian songs." That's why I went searching for a new church.
Before coming to St. Matthew's, I had a rather fuzzy idea of who Episcopalians are. I pictured nice ladies who wear a hat and gloves to church—even in the 21st century—and who drive Mercuries.
I didn't really see myself that way, though I am more likely than most to wear a tie and jacket to church, but I was very hungry for worship that went beyond repetitively singing the same short songs (with drums, guitars, and PowerPoint words) every Sunday. I wanted substance. I figured I could put up with the little old ladies and their Mercuries if they could put up with my jeans and my Toyota station wagon.
The odd thing is that they didn't care. We have several nice old ladies (who do not drive Mercuries or wear hats and gloves), and they seem just fine with our mixture of firemen, teachers, insurance salesmen, real estate brokers, and farmers. One of the nice old ladies told me that we just don't have enough gay people in our church. We only have about half a dozen.
I'm not looking for sympathy here (or for Easter dinner invitations). Oddly enough, this congregation has turned out to be incredibly welcoming and a real home to me. I don't need the holiday dinners that much because I know that I have a home for the other 362 days a year.