Friday, February 10, 2006

These are the people in my my neighborhood...

I sat down with some homework at the public library around the corner from our house last night and felt an unexpected euphoria. Its not the first time I have felt this feeling in the library. Sometimes I get down right giddy when my daughter is playing in the children's section at the lego table or ravaging the toddler book shelf while older children read Junie B. Jones on bean bags or play computer games near by. What is it that stimulates this drunk feeling of glee? I simply love the idea that there is a place, not even 1/4 mile from house, where anyone can come and anyone has access to books, music, movies, and countless other resources. You can linger as long as you like, come as often as you want, and assuming you return it all on time, it costs you nothing. (Yeah, yeah -- my taxes pay for it, I know.)

My joy continued when I left the library and journeyed not even another 1/2 mile to the local community center, where, for a nominal fee, I can use the gymnasium, fitness room, and facilities to my heart's content. As the man on the elliptical machine next to me and I discussed places in town to get food that isn't abhorrent (while trying to pretend that we weren't about to pass out), I just found it nice that there is a place in the community where people contribute in a communal fashion to fund such a place where they can exercise, have classes, and you know, just be friendly.

On my short trek home from my big happy community experience, I realized that my experiences that evening were the answer to another question that I have been asking myself a lot lately: Why do I go to church?

While my loyalty to Jesus has not really changed in recent years, my understanding of scripture and belief in Christianity has altered dramatically. I simply can not make myself believe all of the things I once did, in spite of how much I enjoyed believing and practicing them. The concepts of inerrancy, trinity, eternity, blah-blah-blah-ity, just really do not matter to me that much anymore. Because "God tells me to"..."Because the Bible told me so"..."Because my mom makes me"..."Because they pay me to "(being an ex-minister and all)...none of these are valid reasons to get me out of bed for something other than breakfast on Sunday mornings anymore. So what does? Its this idea of community, the idea that people work cooperatively to create something bigger than themselves for the greater good, that makes me go to church. Of course I'm talking about the "idea" not necessarily the reality. We all know that churches often fall short of this ideal community. But the concept that there is a place for those to come who share a common belief that they want to celebrate together is just a really endearing notion to me. That people combine their financial resources to make a greater impact on the global community is something I can get behind. Every other month, I work with a great group of adults who spend an extra hour at church each week because they think its fun and important to invest in kids who also want to celebrate this shared belief. This is something they choose to do, and a very small percentage of them even have a child who participates in this program. Its just enamors me, this gathering of people for the intent of just being connected to other people,creating something that's not just about them, and ideally making an impact on the community at large.

Scoff if you wish. I re-emphasize that I'm in love with the IDEA, not necessarily the reality. But my mantras for parenting a stubborn toddler and for attending church each week are the same, "My optimism is all I have!"

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