Early in November a friend invited me to a benefit that was held at an Episcopal church.  There was an artist’s market, wine bar, chocolate desserts, and a concert held in the church sanctuary.  Having been a card-carrying agnostic since college, it’s been many, many years since I voluntarily sat in a church pew.  Gazing around, I remembered the various churches I’d gone (forced to go to, actually) to when I was younger.  The exposed beams on the white ceiling.  The simply decorated altar.  The plain candle sconces on the walls.  The view of the woods that encircle the church.   All of those churches had had a similar look, feel, smell, atmosphere to this one.

Yet, I found myself oddly moved.  I heard my inner voice say, “you’ve been missing God.”

In my twenties, such thoughts would have erupted into an identity crisis, melodramatic, angst-riddled and full of shit.   But this time I fielded that thought quite differently.  Chalk it up to maturation, I suppose.  I’ve just sat with it.  Not fighting it.  Not rationalizing it.  Not attaching to much epiphany to it.  Not making it the absolute most important thing to figure it out.  Not making it a question of identity.

So, it’s been a peaceful, easy kind of journey towards  an understanding.  It’s not God I’m missing, I think, but the softer seams of spirituality.  At some point way, way back, I made God and spirituality one in the same, so to be with the latter was to accept the former.  As intertwined and synonymous terms, I felt I had no choice but to reject them both.  The part of me that deals and sends notices about missing pieces was merely using the language it knew, which was also the only language I’d ever given it.

For others God and spirituality may inhabit the same space.  But it feels like a new groove has been dug across my brain, one in which these two have separate houses.  They could be on the same street, for all I care.  What matters is that I’m knocking on the door of the one I want to visit and not worried about what’s behind it.  Or, who opens it.

Melissa, 38, Atlanta, USA

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