Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

I went back and read my first post, and cringed that I announced that I was going to be able to attend church each week. I shouldn't have made such unrealistic goals, because I know that life is going to get in the way.

I work in my family restaurant business, and Easter, like Christmas, like Mother's Day, like New Year's Eve, and Thanksgiving.. is a work day for me. I had good intentions of getting up early, and finding a local sunrise on the beach sermon before work. In fact, I woke up in time, only to see rain.... so I rolled over.

SO... Easter Sunday comes and goes...and the newbie determined blogger has failed on a major religious holiday. A day that should evoke volumes of discussion, fashion statements, children, spring, hope eternal, rebirth.
Instead, I rolled over. I got up a little later and realized that I really should have made a more determined effort. I was due at work shortly, and traditional churches got out too late. So, I practiced a little yoga (my personal church), got ready for work, and indeed enjoyed the fashion show of Easter at the restaurant.
In many ways, the Easter crowd at a fine dining restaurant is like a religious experience. Families gather. Children dress adorably, and have been forced to sit still in church, and then in the restaurant, all while exploding from a "Easter Morning sugar rush".

Great-grandmothers big day out. Bonnets. Moth Balls. Smiles. Family. I looked around, with church on my mind, and saw a melting pot of belief systems around the restaurant. Passover is observed at the same time, and we had many Jewish families, Irish Catholic families, WASPy families, Same Sexed families, Sisters, 4 Generations of families, Greek families (Greek Easter was same day... although we didn't get many... Greek families tend to gather in the home on holidays), and they all came in different shapes, colors, and sizes. There was an interesting diversity that day, but I marveled at the church of my family restaurant, and all who gather there on the holidays. The common denominator was family, tradition, and food.

At first, I was giving myself a pat on the back, for trying to salvage Easter Sunday from the truth of my laziness.
I thought I could get away with writing about My church... my restaurant and my yoga, I even ended my shift with a glass of wine, and some fabulous lamb with slow cooked demi glace. (I had my Eat and Drink part down) Then I thought... LAME! Cop out, Kristin! Suddenly, I remembered the internet! Youtube. I searched for Easter Sunday Sermons, and so many sermons popped up! I was in business! There just may be redemption.

I set aside an evening during the week, and pulled out my notebook. I poured myself a glass of wine, and made myself a nice meal. (Pan Seared Salmon with early spring lettuce salad and a lemon caper beurre blanc) (Yes, I LOVE food) I sat comfortably in my office with my meal and found my online church. This could get to be a procrastinator's dream, I thought to myself.
Although habit could easily form with this church method, it contradicts my initial goal of traveling close to home and discovering local pubs, community, and food. However, I am certain that this online church experience won't be my first. Doors were opened here, dear reader, you will never know what you are going to get. (Do I even have a "dear reader?") It sure will make it easy to play catch up for me, when Sunday's have other plans for me throughout the year.

So, seated at my desk, I chose a Born Again Christian Church in Washington, DC. I smiled. Never in my life, (aside from film), had I ever imagined myself witnessing such a service. I smiled and took a sip of my beverage. This is pretty cool.

The service began with a handsome young man initiating some group prayers. I guessed him to be a student on the path to becoming a minister. He was as passionate as a young idealistic man should be, and I loved listening to him. (He looked like a young Denzel)

I took some notes as the sermon began. The Reverend was an older, very dynamic, if not stereotypical, black "preacher". As he began to speak, I was easily captivated by his attention getting voice, well placed pauses, and enthusiasm while making his point. He commanded his audience, and it was great!

I wished I could have seen the parishioners, but I could hear them. Constant shouts of "Amen!' sprinkled throughout the hour long video. I also wished that I could have spent time in the community. The best laid plans, right? Hey, who knows where this journey will take me, though. Washington, DC isn't that far of a road trip for later in the year, right? Ok, we'll see. Right now I am simply enjoying another style of worship.

Some bullets of doctrine, followed by my thought process:

* He lives in my heart, so I live above sin. ( I really agree with this statement. If you live life according to the rules you set out for.. If you live to your highest self, and all that you set out to be as a person, you feel most free and energetic, and that is when you feel God in your heart. You feel your healthiest, your happiest, and your most productive)

* God gets Glory in his Kingdom (I wasn't sure what that meant, so I am going to guess. Hmmm. Nope, I've got nothing.)

* "After you believe in the church, then what do you do?" The Reverend went on to explain that although while at church, a parishioner may feel Godlike, and make promises, and praises; it is what he/she does after church that matters. (I liked the message here. The truth that every person needs to be held to their highest self at all times… or as much as humanly possible, and that basically we should all "do the right thing".)

* The truth shall make you free. (Of course, I had heard this before, but I pondered it today along with my Reverend du jour. I always believe that the truth is freeing. The energy flows much more freely through the body when we are at peace with our spirit. Truth is essential to that flow)

* The Child understood God; When he became a man, he had to put away childish things." ( I believe that we are closest to our spiritual connectivity when we are children. We are in tune with the laws of the universe, and joy is a birthright we often naturally feel closest to when we are children. Staying in that alignment is the challenge as we age, and life's challenges weigh on us.)

* Don't look down on other people; we are all sinners. (Now, I need you to go back and reread that last statement, and animate it in your mind. The Reverend was mighty, his fist was firm and raised, his voice boomed, "Don't look down on other people, " He commanded, "we are all sinners." He let that statement sit in the air. There was a moment of stillness, and then someone broke the moment with an, "Amen!" Followed by a string of "Amens!" that the Reverend joined in on after a few seconds, "can I get an Amen?" and it was like watching and listening to a well choreographed dance, as he absorbed the power of his parishioners after hearing his word.)

*Lust of the Flesh... vs. Pride of life. The Reverend went on to talk about judgement, and sin. On the heels of not looking down on other people, he began to discuss the recently passed Elizabeth Taylor, who had been married several times in her life, was the object of much desire in her lifetime, and made choices of the flesh, instead of taking pride in what the Reverend thinks is an honorable life. "She is now sitting in judgement." he stated. (I had an issue with the implications here. Here was the Born again stuff I was worried about. the belief that if you don't get saved from your sin, you can never reach the kingdom of heaven. I agree in the pride of life statement, that one should feel proud of the choices and decisions that one makes in his/her life. But who is he to say that Elizabeth Taylor lived a life of sin and was not saved? She had much to be proud of in her life. She was outstandingly philanthropic, and suffered as one of the pioneers of the "papparazzi-life-in-a-fishbowl" hollywood star. Who is he to judge her life, her loves, and her spirituality? The point of the statement intrinsically makes sense. "lust of the flesh vs. pride of life" can be understood to mean that oftentimes we fall into temptation and veer off of the goals we set for ourselves. Lust of the flesh can be simply the cookie we eat after we begin a diet. The goals we set for ourselves, be they commitments to each other, our jobs, and even our blogs, are often challenged by temptations and distractions. We gain pride in our lives by sticking to our goals and resisting temptations.

* Saved to Behave. (Lastly, I wish to comment on the theme that flowed throughout the sermon. You have been saved to behave. Now, I am not "saved", but I guess I never felt that I needed saving. Thinking of this statement, however, and applying it to my own understanding of spirituality, I guess it means that a person needs to exercise forgiveness, both of him/herself and of others, and then to stick to the goals set before them in their path. Make peace within yourself (the saved part), and behave in life the way that makes you maintain that peace.) (I am pretty sure the Reverend was talking about the resurrection of Jesus as an act of our salvation.. it was Easter Sunday, after all.)

In closing, and I apologize for this lengthy post, I want to express my thanks to the many ways I was able to enjoy Easter. From my church of my yoga practice, to my parishioners at my family restaurant, to my online energetic Easter service, which opened my eyes to many global possibilities of understanding worship. The spirit of Easter Sunday, the message of rebirth at this time of year, after last week's message about being a time to plant, was ever buzzing within me. I do feel saved in a way. I do feel that I am creating some kind of rebirth in my ever changing life. So as I birth myself forward in my own life, I thank the Reverend who told me to behave, and that I should seek a power in my life. I am and I will.