Going Back to First Congregational
9:42 pm: I never really thought I missed church. Not really. I had a bad enough experience with the way things went in Seattle, that I was very glad of the hiatus we had when we first moved here.
It was also good to spend the time with Fezzik and really enjoy him and the time with him and take care of him in his last days. Having the Sunday morning walks with Debbie, Matt and their Bad Dogs was a great contemplation and time away from work, away from the busy-work of the house, and away from the rest of our lives. It was good spiritual time to just be ourselves and be with the ones I loved.
So I didn't think I would miss it at all. In fact, when we went last week, I had some trepidation about the whole thing. Inquiry class, by a close coincidence, started *today*, and both John and I thought it would be a god idea to at least try it and ask what questions we would. It's actually a multi-week 'class' with information, first about the folks that were thinking of joining the congregation, then a class about what the church had to offer, then about how the UCC fits amid all the other denominations, and finally what they expect of those that join. It's an hour before the service every Sunday.
Something to do on Sunday mornings, and Jet really liked being with the other kids last Sunday. So we got everything set up for the early trip. Jet cooperated beautifully and got up once to be moved from his crib to his infant seat, and then he got up once to eat and that was it until 6:30. I got up long enough to feed him, and then John woke up at 7 and took a shower before taking Jet to feed him solids.
We got out the door at 8:30, but neither John nor I had a real breakfast, and I knew that I would fall over without something. So we drove through a McDonald's drive-thru and got sausage biscuits with egg. It was really yummy. We were also wise and didn't get the hash browns which always overload us on the grease.
Jet fell asleep on the way over! That surprised me, some, and he slept happily through the first half of the class in his car seat by the windows. I only realized he'd woken up when I heard a peep from him and he was sitting there, eyes wide open and he was looking out the windows at the grey sky.
The weather is clearly changing. From 76 yesterday, the next week is supposed to see three snow storms and single digit lows and negative temp wind chill factors. It'll be a very interesting week. Today, though, just saw the sky cloud over completely.
He joined the class, but was kind of cranky and unhappy. He was a bit of that yesterday, but today it was pretty clear that he's uncomfortable with *something*. I don't know if it's teething, a cold, or something else, but something is bugging him at a low level. He's mad a lot and cranky and unhappy. He is very clingy and even when I'm holding him he isn't entirely happy.
He lasted the class. It was mostly everyone in it giving some of their history, both physical and spiritual, and it was fun and cool to learn that the people there were all over the map. I think that the UCC draws the folks that really believe in diversity and with every story I hear from an individual in a congregation the more I'm convinced that the denomination really practices diversity as well as it can while still being a human social entity.
I was very... comforted by both pastors declaring the fact that the church has warts, sometimes really painful ones. Wart seemed really appropriate to me, as there are some aspects of church that I've found to be just really, utterly ugly and repulsive. It was interesting how much that got me to relax, that they would so openly and up front declare that for all that the church might strive for something better, it can still be so ugly and awful. There was something that rang true about how that was said, along *with* the profession of what churches have done for their lives and spirituality.
Balance, I guess. Something about the complex interweaving of good and evil in the same thing, just as most human beings are that, too. So tangled together there isn't any way to judge any of it or them as being wholly one or the other.
Jet nursed for a bit at the end of the class and was refreshed enough to make a go at the nursery. He got down and started playing with all the other kids and never noticed John and I leaving for the sanctuary.
The message was a useful one for me. It had to do with Jesus telling Nicodemus, the Pharisee, that the Holy Spirit is much like the wind, unseen but for it's effects on those it touches. The message also had to do with how risky it is to depend on the wind and the huge changes that can follow. That spoke to me. The old testament reading had to do with Abraham and Sarah being told to leave their old lives and begin anew at a really old age, and being told that they would start a nation when they thought they couldn't ever have children.
A lot like John and I leaving Seattle, and risking everything on a hope and a possibility. It was interesting to see the parallels in some ways. To take the risk and try anyway. That kind of spoke to me with my uncertainty about even coming to this church regularly. One very freeing thing, though, was having no history with this church, coming at them completely new to everyone and everything. I felt like there was a whole lot less expectation to live up to. That felt really good.
I enjoyed getting something to think about. I hadn't expected that. While it's possible to think about spiritual things on ones own, it's just not something I was doing, and having the input from someone else was very welcome. I like thinking about this side of my life, and it was keen to get that. That surprised me, though, as I had thought I'd been very content to just live my life without ever going into a church again. And this one was just so... comfortable. The message was phrased in ways that were very much like what John Randlet had, with some of the same challenges to take risks, make something happen, and try to make the world a better place even when it seems stupid or impossible to try.
I think that's the hope I needed more than anything.
Afterwards, we found a Jet snuggled up into the lady caregiver, with all the other kids huddled around him. She had had to leave for a bit to use the bathroom and the male youth minister had taken over for a bit, and Jet had started just crying. Poor little guy, he seemed pretty tired, by her standards, and he clung pretty hard to me. So I nursed him there in the quiet room, which actually had people popping in and out all the time, and while Jet got a good dose, he was pretty distracted.
He got enough that we were able to go to Safeway and stock up for the week, and drop by the bagel shop to stock the freezer up with breakfasts. Then we headed home. Jet slept. Yay!
He had a good nap while we had lunch and I got to work on my journal and finally update it. John worked on getting a rental car for Tom's wedding, and wasn't having any luck with the web site. He gave up when he heard Jet wake up. This morning, when I came out, Jet suddenly refused to eat any more solids. This time I stayed upstairs and let John have the time to feed Jet himself. He got a good jar and a half into Jet!!
I got a chance to print two of my favorite pictures on a sheet of the glossy Epson paper. I was amazed at the difference that the glossy paper made. They really look like processed pictures!! They're five and a third inches by a bit more than seven inches, so they're *big* and beautiful and colorful. I really was impressed, and it really does seem that the IBM paper isn't compatible with the Epson printers. The two pictures I printed was one of John carrying Jet over his shoulder and the other was one of Jet on the beach in San Diego grinning wildly into a really strong wind.
I went down after I heard them finishing, and I took care of Jet while John finished doing his Web stuff and some work stuff. Jet actually had a great deal of fun, and we even took a walk outside with him in the sling and tucked inside one of John's jackets with me. He kicked off his shoes, but tucked his bare feet up against me inside the jacket, so he wasn't cold at all. Jet loved just looking around again, watching the vehicles, and peering at all the clouds coming in over the mountains.
When we got back in, I decided it was time to let him try and feed himself, and got a jar out and put several spoonfuls of food into it and handed it to him with a spoon. Jet had a blast. He didn't use the spoon all that much, he actually got the most food by raising the jar to his mouth and tipping it straight up. Meep. He did make quite a mess, but I had to wash his splat mat anyway, and the floor needed a good mopping from his previous tries anyway.
I ended up mopping the floor all around his seat with water and vinegar and then rinsing with water, washing the mat by hand in the wash tub, and Jet loved watching all the activity. John had to take Jet away while the floor was wet, and Jet was really upset by that, he started just crying really hard. Even when he was finally able to sit with me again, he was unhappy, though he was happy for a little while, it didn't last too long. Finally we had to feed him a couple of ounces of formula and when he was done with that, he was happy enough to last until his usual bedtime.
We watched the closing ceremonies, and I was sad that it was all over. The NBC coverage had gradually gotten worse over the two weeks, as they , once again, covered their human interest stories more and more. I still prefer most of the time be spent on the actual events, but they were going crazy with all the 'good stories' they were being given.
It was still a really good Olympic games, and I think a big portion of that was because so many of the athletes were so happy with whatever they got. They weren't disappointed the way the stupid TV announcers wanted them to be disappointed. Everyone was a great spot, and so many of them made it very obvious that they were keeping this all in perspective. A few even cited the fact that the events of September 11th really gave them perspective. I remember one ice dancing couple saying they really felt that what they were doing was completely useless in contrast with what had happened on that day.
I wonder if so many folks were such good sports because of that kind of comparison. I was very impressed with the graciousness of so many of the athletes, not just the Canadian figure skating couple, but all the athletes that got a medal and many of the ones that didn't. I was really happy for the American bobsledder for which this was his last games who went from fourth to a silver with an unprecedented run. It was just really cool.