Last night I went to hear the monks sing. Every Sunday night at 9:30 the fifteen robed men with angelic voices who make up the Compline Choir at St. Mark's Cathedral chant, hum, and sing peace to a hodgepodge audience of quiet souls who come to hear them. The question I have is, why?
I know why I go- I believe in Christ; I've got a thing for perfect harmony; I like feeling small under high, vaulted ceilings. I know what I believe and can 'amen' most of the words echoing through the cathedral.
I also love people-watching, and during last night's visit I noticed more than ever how many eyes were closed and facing heaven, brows furrowed in contemplation. I can feel their sincerity from the floor seats we share because pews are too crowded, and I wonder, are they praying to God like I am? I have been raised in a church where we are taught what 'We Believe..." until we get to the point where we can testify that 'I Believe.' When am seeking the divine, I know just what I'm looking for, who I am addressing, and most of the time, how I might receive response. But I'm one of some six hundred in attendance, and surely most don't come from my same background. What about the people who are raised to doubt, to question, to disbelieve? And those who are not taught anything? I want to get inside their heads and hearts and see how their process of coming to God is different than mine. Is there something I can learn from them? Many people are not 'taught' religion but feel religious to some degree, whether Christian, spiritual, or otherwise. What are they getting out of the words from the Episcopal Common Book of Prayer?
My Sunday School lesson yesterday was all about healing. In the first five chapters of Mark (and throughout the New Testament for that matter), Christ performs a lot of miracles. The miracles seem to fall under three categories: casting out unclean spirits, healing the diseased, and raising the dead. We don't see these kinds of miracles so much these days, but the categories, I think, remain the same: Christ casts out unclean spirits from us- the disposition to sin. He heals us from our imperfections- spiritual and temporal, any parts of us that are not perfectly Godlike. And to God, there is no lost cause, even the spiritually dead can be healed. No one is too broken to be touched by the power of Christ.
I love that. I appreciate the way my church has helped me articulate how I commune with heaven, but has allowed me room to make it my own. And I'm glad there are places like St. Mark's, accessible to anyone seeking peace or seeking healing.