We arrived at the church around midday. It is an older church built in the 1880s. It is a Victorian Gothic style building, brick and stained glass. It is like stepping through a time warp.
He had come by in the morning to help me with my tire. After that, we had breakfast and he asked me to come with him to clean up from installing the window last night.
As we walk through the main sanctuary, we are greeted by a minister who is sitting in the front row on pews, talking with someone. It is rather dark in the sanctuary, lit mostly by natural light filtered through more stained glass windows than I thought to count. Wrought iron accents the brick and colored glass. The room we are working in is just off the main sanctuary, even darker than the main room, if that is possible. Dark stained wood and brick.
We make short work of the mess, take some pictures, and head out into the sanctuary again. He wants to show me the windows he has already repaired or replaced, and the ones that are to follow. As we begin our tour of the space, a mid day service begins in the smaller worship space. The tour concludes and we are now in the kitchens. He volunteers here as well, helping to feed the homeless in the area on Saturdays. I look out into the fellowship space, there are two men waiting for lunch, or escaping the cold. One is the gentleman from the sanctuary earlier. Homeless. The two ladies that are preparing the lunch are talking to him. Asking if he needs anything. Like most of us, he is struggling a bit as well.
It isn’t Sunday. Church service for the masses isn’t happening, but this is church. This is a spiritual experience. People are serving and being served. Community is being built and reached. Outreach is happening. This is sacred service.
As we leave, one of the ladies preparing lunch stops him. They talk briefly about a personal problem. It is something he can relate to and he promises to keep in contact to support her journey.
As we drive back to my home, I can’t help but to compare this brief experience to what my experience has been for the last few years. I feel like, from a spiritual community standpoint, I have been living in a vacuum. The movement I have been associating with feels that way sometimes. A community of positive minded people expressing how wonderful everything is, focusing on the positive. That is well and good, nothing wrong with this. Except it can feel sterile, impersonal.
We arrive at home and he leaves to work on his current glass project. I go inside and just sit with this feeling. This wasn’t a “God thing” or a “holy ceremony”, just an afternoon spent picking up scraps from a stained glass installation. It wasn’t about some ethereal deity on high casting out love, or judgment. This was people walking through the muck, helping other people down there with them.
This isn’t going to be about me trying to explain my very abstract view of spirit, just an experience in spirituality, in kindness, compassion, and service.
This felt more real and more in line with the master teachers of old than where I have been sitting for some time. This felt like the first time I had been to church in some time. This mattered.